iPhone 4 sells, but potential defect looms


Apple Inc. sold 1.7 million iPhone 4′s in the first 3 days which makes it the best selling iPhone over that span. The phone is the most advanced and capable in the market and like its predecessors, it sets the benchmark that all other competitors will follow. However, there seems to be a problem with the phone’s reception when a person holds it in the way you would if you were talking on it. This problem has been shown on YouTube many times by many people and even prompted a dead end response from Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

In one email where he responded to a customer’s concern on the issue, Jobs said “just avoid holding it in that way.” Nice. Steve Jobs is one of the most admired and respected CEO’s in the world right now, but this is not the first time he made controversial statements in emails to customers. Perhaps he and the company should agree to not let him personally answer any customers’ emails anymore. The solutions Apple has for this problem at the moment are: hold the phone in an uncomfortable way so that your hand does not touch certain parts of the phone (this is what triggers the poor reception), pay a 10% restocking fee and return the phone or buy a $30 phone case from the Apple store which will eliminate the problem. All of these solutions are unacceptable, to say the least.

The problem occurs because Apple uses the metal band around the edges of the phone as the antenna. When a person’s hand touches a certain part of that band, the reception dies almost instantly. Apple will obviously need to make an adjustment in the placement of the vulnerable points of the band so that they are not placed exactly where a person is likely to hold or touch it while talking on the phone. It appears that a simple case will solve the problem and it may not be necessary to buy it for $30 at the Apple store, which is a rip-off. You can likely find a suitable one for $5 or $10 in other stores, but still, many people don’t like having any case on their iPhone at all (me, including).

Apple needs to come up with a better solution for this potentially big problem before they redesign the device which will likely take some time. I have not purchased my new iPhone 4 yet and I was planning to, but now I, and many other people like me will be less eager to do so and will likely wait to see what happens with this problem.  However, as I mentioned off the top, many people already own the phone and they are at the mercy of Apple right now. This problem prompted a lawsuit in California claiming, among other things that Apple and U.S. exclusive carrier, AT&T knew about this problem and did not make it known to the public.

Apple has benefited from mostly positive publicity from all their products since they launched their first iPod a little less than 10 years ago. It will be interesting to see how they handle this situation because sometimes when a company sees only positive things for so long, they start to think that their loyal fans will be ok with anything and that is not true. The reality of business is that even one major case of treating customers poorly can more than undo all the positive things that have built up over the years. Over the coming days, weeks and months, we will see if Apple knows this lesson or not.