Apple iPhone 4: PR disaster continues, press conference on Friday

Apple iPhone 4: PR disaster continues, press conference on Friday

Apple have announced that they will be holding a press conference this Friday, June 16th, at 10AM Pacific Time, and are expected to be finally addressing the iPhone 4 dodgy antenna issue.

Ever since it was discovered that holding an iPhone 4 in a certain way can result in a loss of signal (and sometimes dropped calls ), a major PR disaster for Apple has been brewing.

Websites and user forums have been filling up with disgruntled users complaining about reception issues, with some posting up YouTube videos charting the dropping bars, but the biggest gripe seems to be the company’s response.

So far this has boiled down to “you’re holding it wrong,” with an official response unhelpfully suggesting,  “Just avoid holding it in that way” while Steve Jobs insisted that, “There is no reception issue.”

It’s all about the bars

Scientists added fuel to Apple’s PR pyre, commenting that they believed the antenna design was at fault and not the public’s phone holding methods.

Apple responded by issuing a less than convincing response, saying that the way the iPhone measured signal strength was actually to blame.

Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong. Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength.

Apple iPhone 4: PR disaster continues, press conference on Friday

Unfortunately for Apple, independent tests in a damning report from Consumer Reports called that claim “into question,” and the markets responded by slashing £6.5bn off the company’s value.

PR disaster continues

Apple wasn’t finished making arses of themselves yet though, and in a truly ridiculous move took to erasing threads that mentioned the Consumer Reports study from its official support forums. Doh!

Digging in deeper

Of course, the real story here isn’t the relatively minor antenna problem (or even the proximity sensor issue) that has been affecting iPhone users, but Apple’s disastrous response throughout.

For a company widely admired for its legendary PR and marketing savvy, Apple have completely and utterly screwed this one from day one, so we’ll be very interested about the outcome of Friday’s emergency press conference.

How do Apple get out of this?

Some had hoped that the freshly released iOS 4.1 update may have fixed the “death grip” antenna issues, but it seems it makes no difference at all.

It has, however, been established that the antenna problem can be alleviated by using one of the company’s £25 ‘bumpers,’ which cover the antenna with a plastic band, thus preventing the troublesome direct skin contact.

Had Steve Jobs acknowledged the issue from day one and offered free ‘bumpers’ to buyers, we believe that most of this PR mess would never have happened (on a slightly conspiratorial note, we still find it strange that these bumpers featured so prominently in the keynote speech – did they know there was a fault at launch?).

By pretending that the issue never existed, Apple have dug themselves into a deep hole that’s going to prove very tricky to get out of.

Whatever route they decide to go along – be it free bumpers for all, more denials, a software bodge or even an unlikely product recall – their reputation is likely to be seriously tarnished by this ongoing fiasco.

After all, how can you trust a company that tries to blame you for the failings of their products?

And now some light relief…

Apple are usually masters at getting their products onscreen, but perhaps this is one mainstream TV slot they would have rather missed.

It’s not just iPhone 4 users suffering problems as this parody of the new iOS 4.0 running on an 3G iPhone reveals:

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