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Apple, the iPhone 4, Bumper and the antenna issue

When Apple called for the last minute press conference just a day ago there was much speculation on what exactly it is that Steve will reveal.

Top on the list was an announcement to recall all iPhone 4s available today to fix the well documented antenna issue. In hindsight, we should have been able to tell you that a recall is completely out of the question.

We know that a complete re-design of the device is necessary to solve the root cause of the problem. And a re-design would almost certainly be impossible in such a short time span — the iPhone 4 is barely a month in the market.

And if there’s no replacement how can you expect a recall? What would Apple replace the iPhone 4 with if it had announced a recall? An iPhone 3GS? We don’t think so.

In our pre-conference post we also mentioned that it would be highly unlikely that Apple would give free Bumpers to all iPhone 4 users. Well, it’s unlikely but it is not impossible.

To appease its customers and to get people to deviate away from the real issue at hand, Steve Jobs announced that Apple will be giving away free Bumpers with all iPhone 4 purchased including the ones before the announcement.

This means, everyone with an iPhone 4 will be getting a free Bumper. If the user has already purchase a Bumper, then he will get a refund for the purchase. Jobs also mentioned that Apple will not be able to make enough Bumpers for everyone, so they will give you the option to choose third party cases for your iPhone 4. Apple will be giving free Bumpers until 30 September. It’s a nice gesture, but this doesn’t solve the real problem, it’s just side-stepping it.

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We were informed that the free Bumper offer applies to all countries that will be getting the iPhone 4 officially. That means us Malaysian who plan to purchase the iPhone 4 when Maxis eventually makes the announcement, will also get free Bumpers, though we’re not sure if we have the option to choose a third party casing.

Anyway, that’s besides the point. We stayed up to follow the live feeds from the press conference, and the point we’re trying to make here is that Apple’s position on the whole antenna thing hasn’t changed one bit.

In our oppinion, the press conference was just a little song and dance by Apple to “address” the problem but not really solving it. Let’s face it, the Bumper is just a quick-fix. The fact of the matter remains that the antenna on the iPhone 4 is flawed. The only way to fix that is to go back to the drawing board.

Reading through the feeds, we can’t help but feel that Steve Jobs have taken a very defensive stance and Apple has worked doubly hard to downplay the issue even further. At the beginning of the conference, Steve revealed that Apple did their own testing to see if other phones are affected by attenuation. The pulled out devices like the Samsung Omnia 2, the HTC Droid Eris and the BlackBerry Bold 9700 and claim that these devices have the same problem.

Interestingly no comparison was made to the Nexus One, Motorola Milestone, Droid X and HTC Desire. One can’t help but wonder why this is so.We’ll let you make your own judgement on that.

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Also, Steve mentioned how Apple has a crack team of 18 PhD scientists and engineers working on the iPhone but oddly enough in his presentation, he did not say how Apple conducted the test to show that the Omnia 2, Droid Eris and Bold 9700 also suffer same problems like the iPhone 4.

Without revealing the method, there’s no real way to replicate the results, and you can’t replicate the results, then it’s not exactly scientific. Hence, whatever Jobs just showed in the presentation can’t really be considered fact.

And even if other phones face the same problems, those devices don’t display symptoms anywhere near as bad as the iPhone 4.

So basically what’s the key takeaways from the press conference? From our perspective, nothing much has changed really. Apple and Jobs are still adamant that the iPhone 4 is the best smartphone in the market today (our opinion: although the iPhone is good, it’s not really as awesome as Apple would want you to believe).

There’s still no real fix for the antenna issue but we’re not going to expect sales of the iPhone 4 to suffer. There are just too many people out there who doesn’t understand what is really going on. Droves will still buy the iPhone 4, why? Because its an Apple product and it’s a status symbol. Many will buy the iPhone 4 just because it’s an iPhone.

Like a person, a company’s true worth (not in terms of monetary but in terms of its “conscience” or core values) is revealed at its purest in the way it handles adversities. You see a true nature of a person, when he’s pushed to his limits. And in Apple’s 30 year history, this has to be one of the most challenging periods. Apple is now being pushed to its limits, so to speak

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And in response to this challenge Apple resorted to what can be considered as bribery. It is the first time we’ve heard of Apple giving away free casing for the iPhone definitely. And in terms of Apple’s values, we’re not too sure if the company is holding strong to it.

Apple is having a crisis and they are not doing enough to fix it. If you need an analogy, it’s kind of like the BP crisis of the tech world. Ok, maybe not a huge in terms of magnitude, but it sure is just as serious — if you’re a geek of course.

If you ask us will we be getting an iPhone 4. We’ll tell you maybe not. There are a number of just as good alternatives out there that we’d take a look first before making a decision and we think you should do the same as well.

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