As expected, the smartphone manufacturers that Apple dragged into its own iPhone 4 reception mess have not responded favorably to the sweeping accusations made by Apple chief Steve Jobs during Friday's much talked about press conference. During the presentation in which Jobs announced a free case distribution program for iPhone 4 owners, a very large target was made out of Apple's biggest competitors in the smartphone marketplace.
Alluding to the infamous Death Grip, Jobs said this sort of thing "doesn't just happen to the iPhone." In fact, he boldly asserted that the likes of "Nokia, Motorola and other phones" have the same nagging issue. He then went on to demonstrate how the BlackBerry Bold 9700 and the Samsung Omnia II similarly lose bars when held improperly. Following the presentation, Apple.com unveiled a whole new wing to the site that is pretty much exclusively dedicated to explaining that other smartphones also have fatal reception problems. In fact, this is just about the most attention Apple has ever given to its competition. Of course, none of this attention is positive. And, as a result, there are some angry executives at competing companies that are firing back at Cupertino less than twenty-four hours since Apple fired the first shot.
Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie - the CEOs of RIM (the makers of Blackberry) - issued a formal and scathing response to Apple's harsh critiques.
Apple's attempt to draw RIM into Apple's self-made debacle is unacceptable. Apple's claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public's understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple's difficult situation. RIM is a global leader in antenna design and has been successfully designing industry-leading wireless data products with efficient and effective radio performance for over 20 years. During that time, RIM has avoided designs like the one Apple used in the iPhone 4 and instead has used innovative designs which reduce the risk for dropped calls, especially in areas of lower coverage. One thing is for certain, RIM's customers don't need to use a case for their BlackBerry smartphone to maintain proper connectivity. Apple clearly made certain design decisions and it should take responsibility for these decisions rather than trying to draw RIM and others into a situation that relates specifically to Apple.
Antenna design is a complex subject and has been a core competence at Nokia for decades, across hundreds of phone models. Nokia was the pioneer in internal antennas; the Nokia 8810, launched in 1998, was the first commercial phone with this feature. Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying human behavior, including how people hold their phones for calls, music playing, web browsing and so on. As you would expect from a company focused on connecting people, we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict. In general, antenna performance of a mobile device/phone may be affected with a tight grip, depending on how the device is held. That’s why Nokia designs our phones to ensure acceptable performance in all real life cases, for example when the phone is held in either hand. Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying how people hold their phones and allows for this in designs, for example by having antennas both at the top and bottom of the phone and by careful selection of materials and their use in the mechanical design.