Special: Apple’s Press Conference Coverage

Posted on July 16, 2010

In a relatively short press conference, Steve Jobs addressed criticisms about the iPhone 4’s reception when held. Other smartphones were demonstrated to have similar problems. Some hard data was examined. Apple still is stating that updates for iOS 4 should fix issues for most, but everyone will get a free case if they still do have the issues.

According to coverage over at Engadget, over 3,000,000 iPhone 4s have been sold so far, and Apple had been investigating the issues for the last 22 days. In regards to the actual faults, Jobs stated:

“So we could have gone on and on. Most smartphones take a hit exactly the same way. These were all tested in areas of relatively weak signal strength. This is life in the smartphone world. Phones aren’t perfect. It’s a challenge for the whole industry. Every phone has weak spots.”

Furthermore, Jobs discussed AppleCare data:

“Next, some really interesting data from AppleCare, we looked at the statistics, we asked what’s the percentage of all iPhone 4 users that have called AppleCare about the antenna or reception, or anything near reception problems. Because you would have thought ‘Jesus, it must be a lot of users complaining about this,’ so what percentage have called AppleCare? 0.55% Just one half of one percent.”

It seems, in other words, those who are having problems are being loudest. In addition, he also discussed return rates of iPhones through AT&T:

“In the early days of the iPhone 3GS return rates were 6%…below the average, we were happy with that… so for the iPhone 4? You think half the people must be returning their phones with what you read online… well it’s 1.7%—less than a third of the 3GS returns.”

The call drop data was also discussed:

“Even though we think the iPhone 4 is superior to the 3GS antenna… it drops more calls per 100 than the 3GS. We’re being transparent. So how many more does it drop than the 3GS? This is hard data… the iPhone 4 drops less than one additional call per 100 than the 3GS. Less than one.”

Jobs shared his “pet theory” that many iPhone 4 users do not leave the store with a case, as opposed to many 3GS users who were using one of the existing cases that were available for the 3G. Additionally, Jobs explained that everyone gets a free case:

“Now when we look at this data, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that there is a problem, but that problem is affecting a very small number of users. I get emails saying the phone works perfectly, and they can’t understand what this is all about. So we think it’s affecting a small batch, but it has to do with inherent problems in smartphones. But we want all of our users to be happy.

We think this has been so blown out of proportion… it’s fun to have a story, but it’s not fun on the other side. So here’s what we’re going to do to make our users happy. The first part is the software update, that fixes the way the bars report and other bugs, that’s out now. Second, people said the bumper fixes everything… ‘why don’t you give everybody a case’? Okay — we’ll give you a free case.

A free case for every iPhone 4 buyer. If you got one, we’ll give you a refund. We’re going to send you a free case. We can’t make enough bumpers. No way we can make enough in the quarter. So we’re going to source some cases and give you a choice.”

Jobs wrapped up that the delayed white iPhone will be shipping later this month, and that the proximity sensor issue that some are dealing with will be fixed in the next software update. Finally, the iPhone 4 will be available in other countries on July 30.

“We do this because we love our users, and if we screw up, we pick ourselves up and we try harder. And when we succeed, they reward us by staying our users. We take this really personally. Maybe we should have a wall of PR people keeping us away from this stuff, but we don’t, we take it really personally. So we’ve worked the last 22 days on this trying to solve the problem. And we think we’ve gotten to the heart of the problem.

So the heart of the problem is, smartphones have issues, and we made it easy to exploit the issue by showing people where to hold the phone to cover the antenna. But the data supports the fact that the iPhone 4 is the best smartphone in the world, and there is no Antennagate… there is a challenge for the entire smartphone industry to improve its antenna technology so there are no weak spots. So today we’re going to try and take care of our customers.”

It seems that this press conference was mostly to deflect criticisms of the iPhone 4, give analysts something to talk about over the weekend and next week, and give everyone a free case who is experiencing these problems.

This post has been filed in News and Special Coverage