WSJ Article on iPhone Antenna Problem

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by LDT, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. LDT macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2010
    The most influential segment of the media is starting to take notice. If you want Apple to react you need to complain not with Applecare but with the WSJ, FT, Bloomberg, NYT, CNBC, Fox Business, because they can have an impact on the only things that Apple cares about: its reputation, its bottom line and its stock price.

    WSJ(6/29) Heard On The St: The Curious Case Of The Iphone 4

    By Martin Peers

    If the iPhone 4 has become "the most successful product launch in Apple's history," as the company says, one wouldn't want to imagine the worst.

    Apple's statement overlooked the fact that its fourth-generation phone has an antenna design that requires consumers either to buy a case or learn to hold the phone in a particular way to ensure reception. Usually the idea is to produce phones that get clearly better, not worse, with each new version.

    So far at least, Apple's cult-like fan base seems willing to give the company the benefit of the doubt. Apple said Monday the product had sold a remarkable 1.7 million units in the first three days.

    Investors shouldn't take too much comfort, however. A lot of those sales likely came from preorders placed before reports of the antenna weakness circulated. What's more, many of the initial sales also were likely upgrades by existing iPhone owners. These people already have shown themselves willing to put up with reception problems -- although in the past they could blame AT&T's clogged network.

    The real question has to be whether concerns about the antenna, combined with carrier congestion issues, will slow uptake of the iPhone among customers not yet converted to Apple worship. Not only are they likely to be less patient with any product failings, they can now choose from an ever-widening array of alternative smartphones.

    This should be a concern for investors, as the iPhone accounted for 40% of Apple's second-quarter sales and is a key driver of growth. Apple may well solve the antenna problems. But how many product stumbles can it survive before its halo starts to slip?
  2. SuperDuper-C macrumors member

    May 31, 2010
    I cannot wait until this nonsense blows over. Why didn't this happen Microsoft when just about every X360 suffered from a heating problem?

    I'm pretty new to these forums and during the run up to the release it was a great place to be, now I'm honestly just getting sick and tired of the same crap being reposted again and again by people who seem to be probing their phones or any faults they can, just so they can bitch on here. I love my iPhone 4 and couldn't be any happier, now I'm off to test Gun Range.
  3. Daveoc64 macrumors 601

    Jan 16, 2008
    Bristol, UK
    It did.

    It was in the papers, online, on the TV - just about everywhere until Microsoft admitted the issue and did something to put the situation right.

    It wasn't as obvious as this though, as this problem will be noticeable for some people in the Apple Store. The Xbox 360 issue took at least several weeks to show up.
  4. Rob Mclovin macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2008
    This all happened to Microsoft. Forums, articles, etc. Only until they gave everyone a 3 year warranty did the news stop.
  5. nooaah macrumors 68000


    Sep 3, 2009
    Philadelphia, PA
    Um, the RROD debacle got a ton of press. MS recalled them (mine included) after they fixed the issue. Selective memory much?
  6. Rooftop voter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 26, 2010
    Microsoft stepped up and extended their warranty.
  7. Steviejobz macrumors 68000

    Jun 19, 2010
    Wow. Never more disappointed in the WSJ. They have become really desperate for attention lately. Last week they erroneously reported a takeover of Hasbro causing an incredible amount of volatility that impacted me financially. And now this nonsense. Talking about a product slip-up just a few days after launch that only meaningfully impacts a subset of users.

    As for the 1.7M being ordered before these announcements, there are still huge waiting lists at Apple stores and lines at AT&T starting tomorrow. Points the author fails to mention. Also, who is to say that Apple won't fix the issue?

    Way too premature for such conclusion leaping.

    Oh, and I'll be canceling my WSJ subscription.
  8. SuperDuper-C macrumors member

    May 31, 2010
    Oh, yeah OK apologies, I totally forgot the extended warranty! But to me it just never seemed like they faced any near this amount of backlash, maybe it's because I wasn't active on forums like 3 years ago lol.

    Even still, I think the whole problem is totally blown out of proportion, my own phone does suffer from it, but it doesn't render it unusable by any stretch of the imagination. My xbox lay dormant for weeks on end at one point thanks to RRoD.
  9. Coukos34 macrumors 6502

    Mar 20, 2009
    Yea I remember Microsoft stepping up to the plate with that one. Apple needs to do the same. Either let us know if there will be an update or recall the phone. I don't see the latter happening as they are already quick to boast about sales figures. Recall ain't happening.
    Let's hope it can truly be "fixed" in software, or else apple will be dealing with a bunch of returns and more bad press (deservingly so too, if that is the case)
  10. Daveoc64 macrumors 601

    Jan 16, 2008
    Bristol, UK
    If my Xbox 360 gets the three red lights of death, I can call Microsoft on a toll free number (or do it online), get free shipping both ways and get a replacement console within a week - and I bought the product in 2007.

    With my iPhone, I'd have to use a landline to place the call, only to be told a lie by Applecare.
  11. nooaah macrumors 68000


    Sep 3, 2009
    Philadelphia, PA
    Well, I think the iPhone is a higher visibility product. Also, the 360 did not fail on its launch day. These issues popped up well over a year into the product's lifespan.
  12. Coukos34 macrumors 6502

    Mar 20, 2009
    Why does the issue need to be "unusable" for it to be fixed???
  13. LDT thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2010
    In the US the WSJ is as good as it gets.

    Also, frankly Apple has had it pretty easy from the media, considering the hype behind this new product launch and the magnitude of this problem.
  14. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002
    I'm confused -- is this supposed to be fact-based journalism or an opinion piece? Whatever it is, it's garbage.

    1) Unexamined, empty snark - "Usually the idea is to produce phones that get clearly better, not worse, with each new version."

    2) Biased terminology - "Apple's cult-like fan base," "customers not yet converted to Apple worship'"

    3) Pulls facts out of thin air - "These people already have shown themselves willing to put up with reception problems."

    4) Red Herring conclusion - "Apple may well solve the antenna problems. But how many product stumbles can it survive before its halo starts to slip?"
  15. modul8tr macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2002
    ^^^ Thank you for pointing that out. I found it irritating and pointless as well.
  16. Martyimac macrumors 65816


    Aug 19, 2009
    S. AZ.
    There may be "red herrings" or whatever you want to call it. But to folks like myself who are still waiting to buy an iP4, it makes us step back and ask if there isn't something to all the media reports. It comes because of the old "where there's smoke, there's fire" adage. So whether or not folks like, or don't like the WSJ article, it could have an impact on folks like me who haven't been able to get their hands on an iphone and are now wondering if we should get one. AND, the WSJ article isn't the only report about the issues.
  17. LDT thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2010
    It's also worth noting that a large number of those 1.7 million iPhones were sold outside of the US, since this time the new iPhone was launched in the UK, Japan, Germany and France on the same day as the US.

    Unlike in the US here in the UK those people who may or may not have owned an iPhone in the past have never had to put up with the type of service problems apparently common with AT&T's network, and forking out almost a grand (either outright or spread over the life of a mobile contract) for a smartphone that in certain circumstances does not work as a phone is bound to go down rather badly with many iPhone 4 buyers. There already are instances of people in the UK returning or planning to return their iPhones on various online fora.

    If no fix from Apple is forthcoming one has to wonder how long it will be before large numbers of people start losing their patience with dropped data and voice connections and returning their iPhones en masse.
  18. keyofnight macrumors regular


    Mar 19, 2009
    Seattle, WA, USA.
    Honestly, I'm just glad the problem is getting exposure—be it by tabloid journalism, bird calls, moorse code, smoke signals… I'm not sure I care how bad the article is at this point.
  19. LDT thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2010
    Bloomberg - iPhone Accessory Makers See Benefit After Jobs Recommends Cases

    June 29 (Bloomberg) -- IPhone accessory makers are getting an unexpected boost from Apple Inc.’s recommendation that users buy a case to fix a glitch on their phones.

    “It is good news,” said Tim Hickman, founder and chief executive officer of Hard Candy Cases in San Francisco. Apple’s suggestion may add allure to an already popular accessory, he said. “The demand is there and Apple has built it.”

    Apple made the recommendation after last week’s debut of the iPhone 4, which drew complaints that it loses reception when held a certain way. The company advised customers to hold it differently or use a case. While that solution has irked some buyers, it could benefit Hard Candy, Belkin International Inc. and other accessory sellers -- including Apple itself.

    The cases, typically made of rubber, plastic or recycled materials, are already part of a growing market. Mobile accessories generated $135 million in U.S. revenue in the first quarter, according to NPD Group Inc. That indicates annual sales of more than $500 million.

    “Consumers are putting more information on these products and they are relying on them more, so they are more willing to invest in protecting them,” said Ross Rubin, an analyst with Port Washington, New York-based NPD.

    It’s too early to tell whether the proposed fix for the antenna problem will boost case sales, Rubin said.

    ‘Thong Underwear’

    Apple is selling its own iPhone 4 cases in six colors for $29 each. They’re made of a piece of rubber known as a “bumper,” which surrounds the outer rim of the phone. The accessory doesn’t cover the back or front of the device, prompting the blog to call it “the thong underwear of protective iPhone fashion.”

    Shaw Wu, a San Francisco-based analyst with Kaufman Bros. LP, said Apple may have to start giving away the bumpers with the purchase of a phone as a way to alleviate customer concerns.

    Accessory sales are “almost pure profit” for the company, said Wu, who recommends investors buy Apple stock and doesn’t own it himself.

    “The meat and potatoes of their business are still core products -- the accessories are the gravy,” he said.

    Natalie Harrison, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California- based Apple, declined to comment beyond the company’s remarks on the antenna last week.

    Toilet-Paper Holder

    The release of a new iPhone every year since 2007, along with devices like the iPad and iPod, has fostered a diverse accessories market. The products include speakers, chargers, headsets, scratch-retardant screen covers and exercise kits.

    IPod accessory makers have even produced an aluminum bulletproof case, a leather holder that resembles underwear and a docking station that doubles as a toilet-paper holder.

    Manufacturers of more traditional fare range from large corporations like Royal Philips Electronics NV to startups such as Hard Candy. Belkin, Incase, IFrogz and Cozip also make phone cases, which generated $23.5 million in U.S. sales in the first quarter, up 43 percent from a year earlier, according to NPD.

    Apple has been “pretty aggressive” in releasing new gadgets, said Mack McCoy, who does marketing for the iPhone accessories division of Playa Vista, California-based Belkin. “All of this opens up new avenues for us to play with.”

    With the iPhone 4, Apple changed the design of its antenna, embedding it in the steel-frame chassis. It used to be stored internally. Some customers found that their reception drops out if they hold the bottom-left corner of the device. They’ve taken to blogs, YouTube and online forums to air their complaints.

    Rabbit-Ear Effect

    The human body can absorb wireless signals, causing potential problems when skin comes into contact with an antenna, said Raj Rajkumar, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

    “Its like when you touch the rabbit ear antennas on an old TV, you affect the reception of the signal,” Rajkumar said.

    Even so, not all customers have had problems. Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs has called the matter a “non issue,” according to an e-mail exchange posted on the website.

    Peter Gloria, founder of Los Angeles-based TRTL BOT, which makes iPhone cases out of recycled materials, said they are designing a case for the iPhone 4’s body shape.

    The product’s newest selling point? “It will fix your antenna,” he said.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Satariano in San Francisco at

    Last Updated: June 29, 2010 00:01 EDT
  20. RafaelT macrumors 65816


    Jun 9, 2010
    Lakeland, FL
    Agreed, whether or not this was a good article hopefully it will have the same effect, motivating Apple to speed up a fix.
  21. cirial macrumors regular

    May 2, 2010
    Pompano Beach, FL
    Microsoft NEVER issued a recall. They extended the warranty to 3 years for the RRoD problem. YOU must have selective memory just for the sake of an argument.
  22. LDT thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2010
    AAPL currently down $3.60 or -1.34% at $264.70 in US pre-market trading.
  23. S1njin macrumors 6502a


    May 3, 2010
    To be truthful, it took time for MS to come out w/ the warranty extension and admit they had engineered a sub-par game system. Apple has had less than a week to get its arms around this problem.

    Lets see what they do about it first before we hang them on it.
  24. wirelessmacuser macrumors 68000


    Dec 20, 2009
    We will find out if Apple cares enough about their customers to do the right thing.*

    The first response from Jobs was not encouraging. What some people fail to understand, is the importance of public perception. Too many get caught up in the technical side of the problem. *It's not about what's causing the problem, it's about how Apple handles it.*

    One of the reasons for the wide acceptance of the iPhone, and it's resulting success, is the simplicity and ease of use. The typical mainstream buyer could care less about the technical side of things. All they care about is that it's easy and fun to use.*

    There is a lot of criticism of the mainstream press on this forum. What's new? What's changed? We all know the press gets things wrong and puts a sensationalist spin on it. Yet the moment it involves Apple, the hyper sensitive fanboys cry foul.*

    This is a golden opportunity for Steve Jobs to show who he is. The world is watching.*
  25. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Apple's dominance, and apple's ability to sell 1.7 million iPhones is staggering to the mind. That being the case, people expect apple to have a certain level of design and quality. Apple highly promoted and marketed the newly designed antenna as a huge improvement over the old design.

    No matter how much people discount WSJ, or the internet chatter the fact remains that if people hold the phone in their left hand, the signal is decreased significantly.

    Other companies produced products with design flaws, the ones that fared better were those that stepped up to the plate and admitted the issue and worked to resolve it. Apple's current stance that its not a problem and all phones suffer from this really doesn't cut the mustard. People expect more from a market leader, and if apple wants to be a leader in this sector, then they must bear the responsibility when things don't go quite right.


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