HTC, Samsung, BlackBerry Respond to Apple's Reception Claims
In his speech addressing the rash of complaints about the iPhone 4 antenna reception problems, Apple CEO Steve Jobs explained it away as a common problem, demonstrating the same thing happens with BlackBerry, Samsung and HTC smartphones. Now BlackBerry, Samsung and HTC are all responding to those claims, and they're not happy.
The frenzy started on Friday when Jobs downplayed the severity of "Antennagate" and offered free iPhone Bumper covers to alleviate problems . While it will fix the problem, it seemed too facile for many people. But those most offended are the three companies who received collateral damage by being associated with the iPhone in Jobs' demonstration.
A summary of the demo and what Job's said about competitor antennas is available on the Apple website.
HTC fired back quickly. Hui-Meng Cheng, chief financial officer at HTC, told The Wall Street Journal that "the reception problems are certainly not common among smartphones." And HTC also told phone news site Pocket-lint that the Droid Eris phone, one of those Jobs used to demonstrate signal loss, has only caused complaints from 0.016% of customers. By comparison, Jobs claimed Antennagate wasn't much of an issue because only 0.55% of iPhone 4 owners had complained.
In a similar move, Samsung also responded to Jobs address by saying the company had not "received significant customer feedback on any signal reduction issue for the Omnia 2 [the Samsung phone used in Jobs' demonstration]."
Even Nokia, which didn't have any phones in Jobs' demonstration but was guilty by association because Jobs said it was a problem for all smartphones, decided to wade into the fight. Nokia released a statement with sharp sentiment about antenna design.
"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," the statement read. "As you would expect from a company focused on connecting people, we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict."
However, the most powerful response came from BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion (RIM). RIM co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie didn't just defend their own products but went so far as to accuse Jobs of searching for a scapegoat.
"Apple's attempt to draw RIM into Apple's self-made debacle is unacceptable," the co-CEOs said in a statement released by RIM. "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," the statement continued. "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."
As ABI researcher Michael Morgan pointed out, giving Bumper cases to all customers was the fastest and cheapest way for Apple to fix the problem with the iPhone 4 antenna , and the antenna issues certainly don't seem to have affected iPhone 4 sales too much. But Apple certainly didn't make any friends in the process.