Steve Jobs and company were out to face the press last Friday (1am our time) on the kerfuffle over iPhone 4′s antenna reception when held in a certain way, now termed as the Antennagate.
As usual, Jobs started with his opening with some choice words to state the company’s intention and their motivation, and also set the tone for this presentation:
bq. “We’re not perfect. We know that, you know that. Phones aren’t perfect. But we want to make all our users happy. If you don’t know that, you don’t know Apple. We love making our users happy.”
He quickly moved on to some data about the iPhone 4 – like they have sold more than 3 million iPhone 4 since launch 3 weeks ago and that the iPhone 4 had garnered much high ratings from reviews done in the media. Next was the main issue of this presentation – the antenna system.
Acknowledging that the iPhone 4 has this issue, he was quick to point out that this is unique to iPhone 4 but happens to many smartphone, especially so in areas with bad network coverage. He emphasised this point when he shows videos of the “same effects”:http://www.apple.com/antenna/ on competitors’ phones – BlackBerry Bold 9700, HTC Droid Eris and the Samsung Omnia II. There are more on Youtube – like “BlackBerry Bold 9650 on Verizon”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiZnF3FX4uM, “Motorola Droid”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4zbQ3f7H0U and lastly Google’s “Nexus One”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2g5J4qPp54, which was posted back in February. He added that they had included the “wrong algorithm”:http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2010/07/02appleletter.html to show the signal bars and which they had it “fixed” with “iOS 4.0.1 update”:http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1061.
He then touched on the testing facilities Apple had invested over US$100 million that are being used to test on the antenna systems. You can see pictures and a video of the labs “here”:http://www.apple.com/antenna/testing-lab.html. (For such high tech testing facilities, it’s hilarious to see them using rubber bands to hold the iPhone 4 for one of its many tests.)
Next were numbers. Lots of numbers.
- 0.55% called AppleCare with regards to the iPhone 4 antenna issue (but out of the 3million customers, how many actually bought AppleCare?)
- In the same period after launch, iPhone 3GS had about 6% return rate back to AT&T while for iPhone 4, it is 1.7%, about 1/3 of 3GS
- less than 1 additional dropped call per hundred more than the iPhone 3GS. This in layman-speak means the iPhone 4 drops more calls than iPhone 3GS, less than 1 more call per hundred. Repeat that, five times and it will probably sink in.
So these numbers say a few things – people are happy with the iPhone 4, probably more because of everything else, except for the antenna issues and there are more people who experience drop calls as compared to iPhone 3GS. Can this increase be directly contributed by the antenna design? No one can really say since there are much more people who says they get better reception when compared to iPhone 3GS.
So we have two issues – drop in the status bar showing the signal-strength and drop calls. So for the first, Apple has released iOS 4.0.1 update that supposedly fixed this such that now it will reflect more accurately the signal-strength at that point in time. AnandTech has a “thorough analysis”:http://www.anandtech.com/show/3821/iphone-4-redux-analyzing-apples-ios-41-signal-fix of this signal fix. Read it and you can be your friends’ resident antenna expert!
As for drop calls, they didn’t really state, but most will know that while still under AT&T, you will get drop calls, whether you’re holding it with the Death Grip or not. It’s like how we are in Singapore – travel on the MRT along the East-West line and you’ll definitely get drop calls when you travel between Kallang and Lavendar. Never fails. But does Singtel (my Telco) do anything about it? Nah. So when I do get my iPhone 4, this will be a real-life test to compare between iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4.
Also to make everybody happy, Apple is giving away the Bummer, oops, I meant “Bumper”:http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html#bumper case to all iPhone 4 purchases till September 30 and you’ll get a refund if you had bought it previously (it has been made unavailable in the stores). As there are insufficient Bumpers to go around, Apple will also work with other case producers to offer choices to customers. These should also applies to us in Singapore when the iPhone 4 comes to Singapore. Why September 30? For one, they can’t possibly give away Bumper cases forever, and more importantly, this probably give Apple sufficient time to research more on the antenna and best case, tweak their iPhone 4 production process to reduce the problem, if it is really hardware related.
Lastly, for those who really can’t stand the iPhone 4 (why buy it in the first place), Apple also will give full refund for any iPhone 4 that is returned without any penalty. Seriously, if the iPhone 4 antenna issue is causing much grief to people in daily use, why isn’t there queues to return the iPhone? Why?
Besides these, he also gave a quick overview of what’s coming with the next iOS update – bug fixing, especially the Proximity Sensor problem some users have encountered. He also reiterated that iPhone 4 will come to international market (same 17 countries – including Singapore) by 30 July 2010, together with the white iPhone 4 but in limited quantity (think this will be selling like hot potatoes).
Yes, so we should get our hands on iPhone 4 in Singapore from 30 July (some of us at least…). SO now it’s up to local Telcos to buck up and start “sending out pre-orders”:/2010/06/iphone-coming-closer-to-singapore/ information to their customers (let us know if you see/hear anything).
Before he moved to the Q&A, Steve Jobs had this long closing:
bq.. In ending, I’d like to just give you a feel of what we care about, how we operate, and how we make decisions. We love our users. We try very hard to surprise and delight them. We work our asses off. And it’s great, and we have a blast doing it.
And we make some pretty interesting products for them — Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPods, the Apple TV… we make some pretty great products.
We love our users so much we’ve built 300 Apple retail stores for them — the best buying experience in the world, and the best ownership experience in the world. With Genius Bars that cost nothing to bring your products in and get advice. We had over 60m people through our stores last quarter.
So we do all this because we love our users. And when we fall short — which we do sometimes — we try harder. We pick ourselves up, we figure out what’s wrong, and we try harder. And when we succeed, they reward us by staying our users, and that makes it all worth it.
That’s what drives us. When we have problems like this and people criticize us, we take it really personally. Maybe we should have a wall of PR people to insulate us, but we don’t — when our users have a problem, we have a problem.
We’ve been working really hard over the last 22 days to figure out the problem to solve the real problem — we think we’ve gotten to the heart of the problem, and that is smartphones have weak spots. Some took advantage by demonstrating that — and it was easily demonstrable — but for those small number of customers having problems, we’re going to give them free cases or a full refund.
But the data supports the fact that the iPhone 4 is the best smartphone in the world, and there is no ‘Antennagate’, but there is a challenge to the entire industry.
Today, we love our customers and we’re going to take care of them.
p. I lost count how many times he said “love”…where’s the rainbows and the pink unicorns?
So after the presentation there was a Q&A session with Steve Jobs, Tim Cook (chief operating officer) and Bob Mansfield (senior vice president of Macintosh hardware) and here are some interesting bits (too bad they cut it from the video):
- Steve Jobs cut short his holiday in Hawaii to do this press conference
- He wasn’t aware nor warned about this issue (re Bloomberg posted that Jobs was “warned”:http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-15/apple-engineer-said-to-have-told-jobs-last-year-about-iphone-antenna-flaw.html about the flaw). He say, they say.
- He again apologised to the customers but stated that he doesn’t owe the investors any apology and he say they are in for the long haul because they believe in Apple
- None on the panel uses the Bumper case for their iPhone 4
- They are “stunned and upset and embarrassed by the Consumer Reports stuff, and the reason they didn’t say more is because they didn’t know enough”
- He got a tad defensive when he thinks that some people in the media are jealous of their success and looking for ways to “tear it down”. He added, probably directed at Consumer Reports and Gizmodo – “Of course we’re human, of course we’ll make mistakes. But sometimes I feel that in search of eyeballs for these web sites, people don’t care about what they leave in their wake”
- AT&T takes 3 years (regulations/permissions etc) to add a cell tower in San Francisco. Wonder how long it takes SingTel to add cell boosters in MRT tunnels … forever.
So in summary, we know that there is a problem for some people while using the iPhone 4 at areas with possibly low network coverage but Apple doesn’t know or doesn’t want to disclose the full details of that problem. They gave themselves some buffer time to work out the kinks by giving the Bumper for free till September 30, provided iOS 4.0.1 update and offer full refunds for those who don’t like the iPhone 4.
Think for most of us here in Singapore, best news out of this is that the iPhone 4 will arrive here by 30 July 2010.
Apple has posted the “streaming link”:http://events.apple.com.edgesuite.net/100716iab73asc/event/index.html for the Press Conference if you like to watch it. However, the Q&A session was excluded from this stream but we’ve embedded snippets that was made available by CNN:
Added this funny video from Taiwan’s NMANews about AntennaGate: