The rumors about an
iPhone 4 recall has to be one of the most useless ideas in recent technology memory. There is nothing about the design flaw that could be fixed in any recall, short of rebuilding the phone from scratch or redesigning a whole new phone, which would take one year or perhaps more. It would be totally counter-productive for Apple and its customers alike.
There is really only one solution which makes any remotest sense, and that's for each customer to do what each customer should ALWAYS do with ANY smartphone of value ANYWAY: Use it with a protective cover, such as Apple's own so-called bumper product, available at the Apple store for $30 apiece. Numerous other protective covers/sleeves should soon become available from many other companies, such as privately-held
, to pick the example of what's considered to be the best in the business.
So far, Apple has rejected the idea of giving away its $30 bumper for free, but with the journalistic drumbeat on high gear, free bumpers may just be inevitable. Interestingly, most consumers seem thrilled overall with the iPhone 4. Just ask any sample of your friends who are proud iPhone 4 owners. I can't find a single iPhone 4 owner with a serious complaint. They either avoid pressing the finger on the critical antenna spot, or they have a cover such as Apple's own bumper.
The people who had the phone from the very first moment it became available, before the widespread reports of the antenna issue never seemed to notice it until it became a big media story. Since then, it has become more of a party trick for those without a protective cover: "See, look at what happens if I put my finger right here."
It's something you would probably have seen in terms of a Hugh Hefner or Austin Powers party trick ca. 1967. In reality, it's simply not an issue for the way you're supposed to handle the product, and consumers are extremely happy with the product by all accounts.
Specifically, iPhone 4 consumers tend to report much better Internet speeds, particularly upload speeds. Let's say you take a photo or a video with the new high-resolution camera, and you want to upload it to some web site. This now goes much faster with the iPhone 4 than with the previous iPhone 3GS version, and for that matter many other smartphones. So much for an antenna reception problem!
Bottom line: Sensational journalism is often unfair. I feel for Apple. Let's all hope ambulance-chasing lawyers don't get their pound of flesh from this non-issue. We don't need another John Edwards.
The author is long AAPL.
Anton Wahlman was a sell-side equity research analyst covering the communications technology industries from 1996 to 2008: UBS 1996-2002, Needham & Company 2002-2006, and ThinkEquity 2006-2008.