Sunday, 18 July 2010

Possible October "deathgrip" fix - speculation

I suspect that Apple is working on a contingency plan if antennagate doesn't blow over by the time the Free Bumper offer expires at the end of September.

This contingency would involve laminating the stainless steel band (or using some kind of polyimide varnish). However, since this is a significant change to the production process, it's not going to be ready until October. So they couldn't announce it at Friday's press conference, because it would impact short term sales of the current model.

Come October, if I'm right, they could offer a solution whereby current iPhone 4 owners can bring their phone in to an Apple Store to get its steel band laminated (or varnished) free of charge - although this process will inevitably require the phone to be off site for a few days, which will mitigate the number of users who take Apple up on the offer.

The delay of a couple of months will also give Apple time to evaluate if the media storm blows over. If, by mid-September, users have come to realize that this really isn't a major issue, and sales remain buoyant, they'll mothball their lamination/varnishing plans.

The above is only speculation, but it's much more plausible than Steve Jobs's "Eminem bandaid" theory ;)


  1. Hi Graham. I’m a little puzzled by the ambivalence here :/

    If there were no antenna problem, Apple wouldn’t be giving out free Bumpers, and if it were all just a nocebo, why is there any need for further speculation?

    IMO, the free Bumpers are the placebos.

    Steve admitted they’ll “reevaluate” things come October, which means they might modify the antenna production process or give up on the design altogether. Due to Apple’s iPhone 4 service policies consisting of simply issuing each customer a new or refurbished model (instead of repairing individual devices), they’ll have to do some kind of voluntary recall for users with outstanding antenna problems.

    I think that’s Apple’s best option, logistically speaking. I feel it would be unfair for early adopters to be ineligible for a free “iPhone 4.1” replacement, once they claim the free Bumper. A huge unrest would await any mid-cycle production changes if they don’t offer replacements for any defective batches.

    The thing with ‘Antennagate’ is it adds insult to injury as a shocking engineering howler that only further lowers US consumer confidence on a device running on strained cell network. Heck, it's already paid off for consumers, and will force Apple to do the right thing. Without the mounting pressure, we'd have to settle for advice such as "Just don't hold it that way."

  2. Hi Chuck,

    I think that Steve is being honest when he says that there is an issue, but it's extremely minor. For the vast majority of users, there is no issue. It's all in the mind.

    Have you been having problems with your iPhone 4? I'd be interested to know. I certainly haven't with mine, and I've been using it for several weeks now. I'm also deaf in my right ear, so I always hold it with my left hand - which is supposed to make it worse.

    The reason I think Apple may offer a fix in October, even thoughI think it's a non-issue, is because a perception problem is still a problem.


  3. Graham, I haven't upgraded yet so I guess I'll have to resist until October.

    But, wouldn't it be great if they could identify the affected phones by manufacturing week/serial number?