Steve Jobs took the stage this afternoon to address the growing perception that the iPhone 4 has a fundamental flaw that can only be remedied by a recall.
He took a multi-pronged approach and, in the process, turned lemons into some delicious lemonade.
First he showed real examples of other smartphones displaying the same phenomena as the iPhone 4. Wrapping up he said that phones aren’t perfect and this is a flaw in many phones. It is just that the iPhone 4 marked the spot externally thanks to the thin black line separating the antennas.
Then he used something that we don’t see nearly enough of in the world today… he used facts.
Facts like AppleCare only getting complaints from 0.55% of iPhone 4 users. Facts like a return rate on the iPhone 4 that is 1/3 of that seen with the iPhone 3GS. Facts like the iPhone 4 dropping less than one additional call per hundred when compared with the iPhone 3GS. (He even offered his theory on why this might be — far fewer iPhone 4 users leave with their new phone AND a case so there are more cases of the grip issue.)
In short he used FACTS to drive home the point that this entire episode is a media circus that has no grounding in reality. (To his credit this is exactly what Larry has been saying all along.)
Finally Jobs said that while there is a truly small minority of individuals who are having a problem Apple still wants to address the issue for those few individuals who have had the problem. How will they do that?
1. A free case for everyone who buys the iPhone 4 or a refund for those who have already bought a bumper. And since they can’t make bumpers fast enough, they will have an assortment of cases available on their site later today. Choose the one you want and they’ll send it to you.
2. Anyone who is unhappy with the phone can return it within 30 for a FULL refund.
In other words, Apple saw this issue taking on a life of its own, wanted to set the record straight and then took the extra, and unnecessary, step of giving a case to everyone who buys an iPhone 4 before September is out. In the process he showed that this is a manufactured issue and proved that if enough noise is made people can end up with something for nothing… even when there is no real justification for it.
Jobs summed it all up best when he answered the question “How are you doing?” with “I was better earlier in the week when I was on vacation with my wife in Hawaii.”