Apple's Response to Antenna Issues – Smart or Bad?

As you know, the iPhone 4 has recently hit the shelves and is quite popular. A few weeks ago, it became known that there are antenna problems with the new phones, causing dropped calls and a whole lotta hoopla. The issue can be seen when the iPhone 4 is gripped a certain way- there are antennas for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and one for cellular reception. When gripped in a way that touches the bottom area of the phone, reception degrades or disappears in some cases.  The reason I’m posting a blog about this issue is not because of the design of the phone or the consumer’s reaction. It is Apples response to the problem.
Apple issued a statement that said “Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.”
At a recent press conference about the issue, Steve Jobs demonstrated antenna issues on phones from RIM (Black Berry), Motorola, and HTC, saying they experienced the same dropped calls if gripped in a certain way.
I find two issues with this statement. First, Apple’s response makes the problem a fault of the customer, not Apple’s design, even though it can clearly be avoided with a case, which points to the design being at fault. Second, Steve Jobs is basically saying that it’s not their fault that calls get dropped because ALL wireless phones have that problem.
I do not think this was a smart PR move by Apple. Apologizing, giving out free phone cases and fixing the problem would have been the smartest plan for this issue. But instead, Jobs fans the fire by attacking his competitors, therefore spurring on more discussion and rebuttals. I’m sure he would like “antennagate” (as the bloggers are calling it) to be over, but it seems like he just added more life to the drama.
steve jobs antenna responseWhat do you think he should have done?
Fortunately for Apple, sales do not seem to be declining, as stores are continuing to sell out of the new iPhone 4.

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