Apple to give iPhone 4 buyers free bumpers, cases through Sept. 30
Jul 17, 2010 (San Jose Mercury News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Hoping to make customers happy after complaints of an antenna problem on Apple's new iPhone 4, CEO Steve Jobs said Friday that his company will send free bumpers, or cases, to current owners and consumers who buy the phone through Sept. 30.
In addition to protecting the phone, a bumper solves a problem for iPhone 4 owners who hold the device in a way that puts their hand on the wraparound stainless-steel antenna, blocking reception.
At a news conference at his company's Cupertino headquarters, Jobs said Apple will provide cases made by third-party providers because the company can't make enough of the Apple-branded $29 plastic bumpers that encircle the iPhone.
Customers will be able to order them online starting next week. "Pick a case -- zoom, we'll send it off to you," Jobs said.
Jobs said Apple has sold more than 3 million iPhone 4s and a white iPhone will start shipping at the end of July.
Jobs also said the iPhone will be rolled out to 17 more countries, from Australia to Switzerland.
"I'd like to give you a feel for what we care about and how we operate and how we make our decisions. We love our users, we really love them. We try very hard to surprise and delight them. We work our asses off. And it's great, we have a blast doing it," Jobs said.
"When we fall short, we try harder," Jobs said. "We pick ourselves up, we figure out what's wrong, and we try harder. And when we succeed, they reward us by staying
users. When we have problems like this and people are criticizing us, we all take it really personally."
Jobs also said the company will offer full refunds for those who remain unhappy with the iPhone 4 and return their undamaged phones within 30 days.
Asked if AT&T also will give refunds to customers who bought iPhone 4s from the cell carrier and let them get out of their two-year contract, Jobs said: "I believe so -- yes."
Apple won't provide refunds on third-party cases already purchased by iPhone 4 owners. He said the number of those customers was very small.
Apple will, however, refund the cost of the bumper for customers who already bought one from Apple.
Earlier, Jobs said, "You know, we're not perfect. Phones aren't perfect. We want to make all our users happy."
Calling the situation "Antennagate," Jobs said the company has been "working our butts off" the past 22 days to figure out what the underlying problem is.
He also pointed out the that other smartphones, like the BlackBerry Bold, have similar "death grip" problems like that on the iPhone 4, with some owners reporting dropped calls when they touch the antenna at the lower left corner of the device.
Showing a video of other smartphones being held as signal strength drops, he said: "Most smartphones behave exactly the same way. This is life in the smartphone world -- phones are not perfect. And it's a challenge for the whole industry. Every phone has weak spots."
Jobs detailed the $100 million of research the company put behind antenna research. "We knew if you grip it a certain way, the bars would go down -- just like every smartphone. We didn't think it would be a problem."
He said very few users have complained about the iPhone 4 antenna.
About "one-half of 1 percent -- 0.55 percent" have called the company's Apple Care service for help regarding this issue. "Historically for us, this is not a large number. This does not jibe with what you read about this."
He also said there have been less than a third of the returns for the iPhone 4 than for the previous model, the iPhone 3GS.
Jobs released data on iPhone 4 calls dropped per 100 calls compared with the same for the iPhone 3GS. It actually drops more calls than the iPhone 3GS. "This the hard data. The iPhone 4 drops less than one additional call per 100 than the iPhone 3GS," he said.
"This does put it into perspective. I have my own pet theory of this: When the iPhone 3GS came out, we did not change the design. There was a healthy number of cases available -- 80 percent of customers walked out of the store with a case. IPhone 4 is a radically new design. In our stores, 20 percent are walking out with cases."
The news conference followed a Monday review by Consumer Reports that, while declaring the iPhone 4 the best smartphone on the market, recommended readers not buy it because of the reception problem.
Numerous iPhone 4 owners say they cannot make or receive calls if their hand covers the lower left corner of the device's antenna -- the facetiously known "death grip." However, many users say they have no reception problems when their phone is in a case.
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