Apple’s Antenna Woes: Not Our Problem Says RIM, HTC, Nokia
The iPhone 4 may very well go down as one of the most beloved and the most hated best-selling Apple device ever. After Steve Jobs’ press conference on the antenna design, issues and fixes, he noted popular phone manufactures — like RIM, HTC and Samsung, along with a note about Nokia in a previous press release — all have phones that can suffer the same issues the iPhone 4 does. But Nokia, RIM and HTC are saying Apple is crying foul. They’d never let bad antenna design ruin their phone, those companies claim. But what’s the real story?
Here’s the way I see it.
Yep, Apple screwed up. They have an antenna design that in areas of low signal strength (or in some cases, meaty hands) can really kill reception. Apple has always striven for style, so perhaps their design was a tad over-looked? Who knows. Point is, Apple has rectified the problem by offering free cases. Kudos to Apple and Jobs. They did the right thing.
But Apple would like to stress that while their problem is their own, it is not unique to the iPhone 4. All phones have a spot that when gripped a certain way can cause some loss in signal strength. They made a show of it at their press conference and on their site.
So here comes HTC, RIM and Nokia, looking to make some good press out of Apple’s bad press and rile up their smartphone base. The (apparently) official statement from Co-CEO’s of RIM comes via Crackberry.com …
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 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…should take responsibility for these decisions rather than trying to draw RIM and others into a situation that relates specifically to Apple. – Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie
Meanwhile, HTC has taken a more subtle approach, as Belgium/Netherlands/Luxembourg Manager, Mark Moons Tweeted some interesting things. (Thanks to 9to5Mac for translations.)
“Is Jobs really commenting on other manufacturers’ reception to make up for his own design flaw? I’m surely seeing this wrong …”
“… okay, I’ve stopped following the cry story of the ‘litte fruit’ … got better things to do … He’s making the whole industry look bad …”
And Nokia? This official statement seems to originate from Engadget, noting that…
“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…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…we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict…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.”
If you’re an Apple-hater you might be inclined to side with RIM, HTC and Nokia. But if you think about your past phones, iPhones or not, you may actually realize Steve Jobs is right. I’ve had old Nokia phones and I’ve had LG phones too. Smushed in my pocket, I’ve lost reception and missed calls. Even my Droid, if it’s in my pocket with the screen facing outward (antenna towards my leg) has lost reception completely in areas of low signal. I typically pull it out of my pocket and set it down until the bars light up, making sure my hand doesn’t prevent it either.
It seems to me Jobs was fed up. He’s not trying to put down other smart phone companies, but he’s trying to say “Look, they have this issue too, it’s not uncommon at all, it just seems to be an more specific issue with certain users of iPhone 4, and the media is amplifying it, due to the phone’s popularity.”
But for Nokia, RIM and HTC to lash out like this (you must admit, the wording is a tad on the harsh side) seems immature. It also seems like HTC, Nokia and RIM’s first chance to kick Apple when it’s down, since the iPhone’s success clearly pushed them to compete harder than they had in the past.
And as for Jobs “distort the public’s understanding”, neglecting “antenna performance over physical design” plus, making “the whole industry look bad”? Seems extreme, no?
In the end, ultimately, the consumer decides how this particular industry does, and selling 3 million iPhone 4 doesn’t seem that bad at all.