‘Antennagate’: Apple responds to the pressure

The company that models itself on perfection has admitted that it is less than perfect. “We screwed up,” admitted Apple’s enigmatic CEO Steve Jobs on Friday, giving a direct apology to consumers who had purchased the flawed iPhone 4.

“We are human and we make mistakes sometimes,” he said. “We’re going to do whatever it takes to make [our customers] happy and if we can’t make them happy, we’re going to give them a full refund and say we’re really sorry we inconvenienced you and we’re going to do better next time.”

It was a response that the world did not expect given Apple’s usual haughty attitude to the media, competitors and consumers. Many thought Apple would come out fighting, perhaps even be in denial. But it didn’t.

Jobs faced up to the problems, even light-heartedly referring to the debacle as “Antennagate“. He admitted fault and then suggested various solutions, including a software update and a full refund to unhappy customers.

You have to hand it to Apple. This is new ground for a company that has been the darling of the media world and, up until now, has had to contend with very little negative press. But the Silicon Valley company’s response has been swift, honest and offers resolution.

Apple will be offering consumers free protective cases to overcome difficulties the new iPhones sometimes have in acquiring a signal. Holding the phone in a certain way with a bare hand can muffle the wireless signal and result in calls dropping out. This is particularly acute for left-handed people.

Apple says that iPhone 4 users who have already bought a case will be refunded. Moreover, if any one of the 3-million who have purchased the phone are still not happy, they can return their phone for a full refund. There will also be a software update, out now, that “fixes the way the [cellphone reception] bars report and other bugs…”

“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,” said Jobs.

Jobs did feel however that the issue had “been blown so out of proportion”. Some would say that too includes the almost-endless positive hype that comes with many of Apple’s new product releases.



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