Taking direct aim at the iPhone 4's infamous Death Grip phenomenon by kicking off the event with "the iPhone 4 antenna song" music video, Steve Jobs took the stage at Apple's press conference this morning from the company's campus in Cupertino and promised to answer our longstanding questions about the iPhone 4's antenna dilemma.
"You know, we're not perfect. We know that, you know that. And phones aren't perfect either," Jobs said, first noting the record sales and popularity of the iPhone 4 in an expected moment of self-congratulation. "But we want to make all of our users happy. If you don't know that about Apple, you don't know Apple. We love making our users happy."
"We've been working on this for just 22 days," Jobs said, suggesting that "Antennagate" caught Apple off guard just as it did everyone else. Citing internal tests (because YouTube clips weren't adequate), Jobs said his company "first learned that this doesn't just happen to the iPhone. Nokia, Motorola and other phones have this issue..." Demonstrating how the BlackBerry Bold 9700 and the Samsung Omnia II similarly lose bars when held improperly, Steve Jobs clearly wanted to make it known that the iPhone 4 isn't alone in the world of Death Grips.
"This is life in the smartphone world. Phones aren't perfect. It's a challenge for the whole industry. Every phone has weak spots."
Apple's chief went on to note that "just one half of one percent" of iPhone 4 users have actually complained about the Death Grip, implying that the media frenzy surrounding the problem is a bigger problem than the "problem" itself. "In the early days of the iPhone 3GS, return rates were 6%," revealed Jobs. "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."
Finally admitting (but barely) that all is not perfect, Apple's chief executive indicated that, while Apple believes the iPhone 4 is superior to the 3GS antenna, it actually drops more calls per 100 than the 3GS. "We're being transparent," he said, observing that the exact dropped call data can't be revealed as its within AT&T's discretion to withhold that info from competitors. But... "This is hard data... the iPhone 4 drops less than one additional call per 100 than the 3GS. Less than one."
"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."
"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."
At the presentation's conclusion, which ended with a hand-holding sort of moment and proclamation of how much Apple loves it users, Jobs revealed that the white iPhone will begin shipping at the end of July. We're guessing Jobs and crew hope the white iPhone 4 will be the biggest Apple story from now on. But my hunch is that we haven't heard the last of the "Death Grip."
Wall Street Journal