I just bought my new iPhone duct tape case…can you hear me now?
In the face of mounting criticism of the iPhone 4’s signal problems, Apple must act fast to do good by its consumers and nip this public relations disaster in the bud before it gets worse.
Apple has two relevant past examples to learn from: Johnson & Johnson, which acted fast to recall bad Tylenol products, taking responsibility and paying damages, versus Toyota, which waited ages this year to recall faulty vehicles, denying there was a serious problem until it was far too late to prevent consumer deaths and serious damage to its brand image.
My duct tape solution…
“Apple has handled reports that the iPhone 4 has a manufacturing glitch that causes dropped calls very, very poorly,” said Al Ries, chairman of focusing consultancy Ries and Ries in Atlanta. “They tried to minimize the problem when they should have done just the opposite—get ahead of the situation by ‘maximizing’ the problem.
“Steve Jobs should have held a press conference and said, ‘I’m appalled at what has happened and I’m going to recall all iPhone 4s and keep them off the market until we have a permanent fix,” he said.
Apple continues to remain at the forefront of the smartphone market with the recently launched iPhone 4, according to British online mobile phone store Mobiles.co.uk.
With HD video capture, an enhanced 5 megapixel camera and a host of other new features including the highest resolution display screen ever seen on a mobile phone, iPhone 4 has proven to be the biggest product launch in Apple’s history, and coupled with the latest iOS 4, boasts over a hundred new features, according to the site.
Apple’s iOS 4 offers better multitasking of third party applications and an improved digital zoom when taking photos, plus a tap to focus video feature, still offering one the most powerful operating systems to rival that of Google’s Android, Research In Motion’s BlackBerry and Nokia’s Symbian operating system.
However, despite its popularity, iPhone 4 has not launched without its problems, with stock too limited to meet the demand of a booming market, and the notorious fault with the positioning of the phone’s antenna that causes a noticeable signal drop depending on the way users grip the handset.
This issue has sparked heated debate over the recent weeks since the phone’s launch and forced Apple to comment on the situation, which suggested that it was users’ fault for covering the phone antenna by holding it the wrong way.
In the iPhone 4’s case the signal problem occurs when users cover the black strip in the lower left corner of the metal band, which sees the signal bars drop as a result.
Duct tape solutions aside, as suggested by Consumer Reports magazine, this is a major blow to Apple’s image. Heck I would try it, duct tape is the miracle tool for any job. This reminds me of the astronauts on Apollo 13 trying to get back to earth.
Apple, however, continues to claim that the issue is due to an incorrect formula in the way the signal bars are displayed on screen, sometimes mistakenly displaying more signal than the area actually permits.
Whether this fully explains what many believe to be a design flaw is open to debate, but an upcoming software update is set to rectify the problem or simply buying an iPhone bumper—a protective case for the phone—can help eradicate the issue too, according to Mobiles.co.uk.
None of this seems to have hindered the early success of iPhone 4, which the site claims is fast becoming the must-have device of 2010.
As retailers continue to sell out of the iPhone 4 as soon as it hits their stores, and low stock levels set to continue for the next couple of months at least, Apple will hope to benefit from keeping supply low and demand high.
The solution is painfully clear.
The Tylenol painkiller brand made headlines in 1982 when beginning Sept. 29 of that year seven people died after consuming cyanide-laced capsules of Extra-Strength Tylenol, J&J’s best-selling drug. Those deaths occurred a few days apart in the Chicago area.
While the case was one of sabotage, J&J went ahead and recalled 31 million bottles of Tylenol capsules from the market, offering tablet replacements for free.
More importantly, J&J chairman James Burke took charge of the situation, addressing a press conference one and a half months after the problem arose.
In addition, the company allocated more than $100 million to the 1982 recall and the relaunch of the Tylenol brand.
Tylenol accounted for 17 percent of J&J’s net income in 1981, per a New York Times report filed during the recall crisis. After the deaths, Tylenol’s share of the market dropped to 7 percent from 37 percent previously.
Indeed, many market observers were sceptical of the brand’s future. Yet, Tylenol was back on shelves two months later in tamper-proof packaging and supported by a huge marketing push.
Also, per the New York Times report, Tylenol clawed back share only one year later to 30 percent of the $1.2 billion analgesic market segment.