Jobs gets the job done: All iPhone 4 users will receive free cases or full refund

Apparently the buzz about an iPhone 4 design flaw that caused reception problems has gotten too loud for Apple to sidestep any longer. At an Apple conference held today, Steve Jobs has announced all iPhone 4 users will receive free cases to help mitigate the I-touched-my-iPhone-4-in-the-wrong-place-and-the-call-got-dropped problem. (I guess you no longer need duct tape.) However, Jobs mentions Apple did not create enough bumpers to give to everyone, so a third party will be sourced for the cases; presumably this means users won’t get official Apple “bumpers” but will get some sort of case.

To get this case, iPhone 4 users will need to apply via Apple’s website starting July 22 or visit an Apple store. Users will be able to get a free case until September 30, 2010; it is estimated to cost Apple $180 million to supply cases to all 3 million iPhone 4 users (which is a heck of a lot cheaper than the $1.5 billion it would have cost for a recall).

Furthermore, Jobs declared iPhone 4 users that are unhappy with the phone will be able to receive a full refund; this full refund offer will be open until September 30, 2010. How to go about this refund is not too clear at the moment, but it will probably be either via Apple’s website or via an Apple store.

Interestingly enough, Jobs provided some statistics at the Apple conference claiming the reception problem has been blown way out of proportion. He claimed only 0.55% of iPhone 4 customers complained to Apple Care about the problem, and only 1.7% of all iPhone 4s sold has been returned so far (compared to the 6% of the iPhone 3GS which were returned). Jobs also mentioned the reception problem is a common problem in the smartphone industry, and provided a video comparing the iPhone 4 reception quality to other smartphones such as the BlackBerry Bold 9700.

Have thoughts on the issue? Own an iPhone 4? Just feeling like saying something? We have a comments section for that.

[via BBC News and CNN]

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9 comments

  1. Grantwhy

    @Caleb:
    I just did a quick google search and it does seem that the some of the iPhone 4′s do not like being held in a left hand :-0 (
    http://www.engadget.com/2010/06/24/some-iphone-4-models-see-signals-drop-to-0-when-held-left-handed/
    http://www.engadget.com/2010/06/24/apple-responds-over-iphone-4-reception-issues-youre-holding-th/
     
    I think that might just be qualified as design flaw :-p
    (especially by left handers like me ….. but being held in either hand is a pretty basic concept and getting it wrong could even be considered a serious design flaw?)

  2. Grantwhy

    @ Caleb
     
    which hand were you holding the phone in?
     
    I heard (on a radio news story) that the problem is caused by the WiFi antenna touching/getting close to the phone antenna when held in a certain way – and that if you hold the iPhone in your right hand it is very difficult to cause, but if you hold it in your left hand it’s very easy to cause :-0
     
    (now, I’m not 100% sure that is the cause / reason for the signal drop, but I do trust the radio station in question to get things right more often than not :-p)

  3. Caleb

    I was at the apple store today, and I literally tried for over 10 minutes to get the signal to drop.  I even asked an employee where the antenna is located XD
    I tried for around 10 minutes and gave up.  I couldn’t get the signal to drop.

  4. roger

    I have no animus towards Steve Jobs or Apple, I have no use for a smart phone and, on a very limited budget, I use a PC because it gives “more bang to the buck”. I do love my iPod though.
    Having said all that I do think that Jobs and Apple have done everything wrong they possibly could in this instance, from blaming the punters for holding the ‘phone wrongly to telling them they were imagining things, then claiming it was an illusion caused by a software glitch and when called on that saying it affected ALL smart phones, then finally offering a solution that impacted on one of the main selling points, it’s appearance.
    As a demonstration of  manufacturer’s arrogance and self-delusion it is probably one of the best I have seen. “If we say it, it is true”, “It’s your fault” and “Who are you to criticize us?”
    The point being that all of this was unnecessary. Not releasing the phone until the glitch was sorted, or even immediately apologising and offering a bumper to all those affected, would have done nothing but increase the high regard in which many, previously, held Apple.
    Whilst this behaviour will probably not effect the Apple “fanboys” and girls or the “Apple haters” it is bound to impact on the neutral purchaser.
    Premium brands such as Apple are selling not only the product but also a “je ne sais quoi” and if that goes all that is left is an over-priced, over-hyped box of tricks, most of which are available elsewhere, and cheaper.

  5. Dave Reams

    You have a problem: you apologize. You say, “I’m sorry we inconvenienced you; here’s is what we will do to try to make things right.”
    Anything else seems to be an attempt to place part of the blame on the loyal customer who stood in line to be first to buy your product.
    Does the fix really require a $60 case ($180 million / 3 million)? I might be tempted to opt for Consumer Reports’s duct tape fix, and tell Steve to use the $180 million on R&D for the iPhone 5.
     

  6. Mike

    Sorry but, despite the snappy title, Jobs didn’t get the job done.  Yes, he paid off consumers with something of a remedy, and I’m sure consumers will like getting a free case. This certainly is good, and I don’t mean to negate that at all.
     
    But as a PR matter, Jobs came out the gate justifying and rationalizing, the earlier attempt at spin having failed, and then throwing, almost literally, a bone at consumers to get them to shut up.  Rather than frankly apologizing for any issue and telling the company’s consumers that Apple would dedicate itself to finding a fix for the situation, to the extent possible, and to implement in the future.
     
    In the end, Jobs came across, to a degree, as the arrogant or incapable-of-understanding head of the company that he was trying to convince people loved its consumers (which he stated repeatedly).  This has hurt, and will continue to hurt, Apple’s goodwill–and that has $ consequences as well.
     
    A case study for business schools–what NOT to do.
     
    All in all, an odd and damaging episode for Apple.  Especially odd, given that fixes for the issues are so easy–just insulate the problematic portion of the external antenna, even by a clear insulation that wouldn’t interfere aesthetically.