During its already-infamous iPhone 4 conference on Friday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs claimed that antenna issues are native to “most phones.” He went on to specifically point to phones made by HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Nokia and RIM. It’s as though the tech giant is trying to make light of their design flaws by trying to paint a picture wherein all cellphones of the world have the same issues. According to the named manufacturers, though, this is NOT the case at all. These five companies all issued press releases today refuting the “facts” as Jobs outlined them.
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.
“Studying the way people hold their phones out in the field” – isn’t that an interesting concept? Apple themselves should have thought of this. This is something that needed to be thoroughly tested. You cannot tell me that it was and that they “didn’t know” how much of an issue this is. If they did, then we have a serious case of “we’ll do it our way anyway, and you’ll go along with it because we’re Apple.”
Research in Motion states:
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.
Let’s repeat a small part of RIMs statement again: “Apple clearly made certain design decisions and it should take responsibility for these decisions.” I have to agree completely. If someone at Apple decided that we consumers wanted a thin phone rather than one whose antenna simply works, then they need to own up to that. If they believe they know what we want without asking us, they again need to step up to the plate.
The bottom line is that Apple needs to take ownership of this issue – and fast. People aren’t returning their iPhones in droves, no. However, by continuing this charade of “we didn’t do anything wrong,” they are starting to chip away at the sterling product reputation they once had. And, of course, they’re showing people that perhaps they really don’t care all that much when it comes to what we want and need.