Apple is poised to make a major announcement about its recently maligned iPhone 4 at a press conference at its Cupertino headquarters on Friday. Although I don't know exactly what will be said or who will say it, having attended scores of Apple pressers, I'm pretty sure it will start out with all the good news -- so far -- about the iPhone 4. They'll recite statistics about the incredible sales of the device, quote some of the rave reviews and point out that most iPhone users are enjoying excellent reception. They will undoubtedly remind us that people have waited in line for the phone and, despite the reported problems, sales remain strong.
Some high level Apple executive -- possibly Steve Jobs but possibly not -- will admit that there have been some reception problems. The evidence reported by Consumer Reports is pretty hard to ignore, but it will be downplayed.
Then there will be some "solutions" including the already announced update that "fixes" the problem in Apple's software that indicates stronger reception that may actually be the case. As you may recall the company was "stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong." The company might also announce a software change to mitigate the antenna problem.
At the very least Apple should offer iPhone 4 owners a free "bumper" case or a gift certificate that can be used to buy a case or anything else at an Apple store. Not only does that solve the problem, it also gets people into stores where they're likely to spend more money. It's also a lot cheaper than a recall.
Should We Care
The real question that plagues me is why everyone cares so much about this antenna issue. To begin with, many iPhone 4 users haven't experienced the problem at all and those that have can make it go away simply by not touching the lower left corner of the phone or using a case such as an inexpensive (as low as $10) rubber or plastic bumper case that's a good idea anyway because it protects the phone if it's dropped.
Second of all, the problem -- to the extent it exists -- is simply one of cell phone reception. It's not the same as the accelerator sticking on a Toyota or tainted Tylenol. No one is going to die as a result of this antenna problem.
It's time for all of us in the technology press - and the people who click on our articles - to take a deep breath and put this issue into perspective. I'm far more worried about the Gulf Oil spill, the Afghan and Iraq wars, the economy and tensions in the Middle East than about a flaw in a cell phone antenna.
But I have to admit that speculating about Apple is a lot more fun than worrying about world peace.
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