Apple: iPut a rubber band on it [telecom]

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The Boston Globe


Apple: iPut a rubber band on it

July 20, 2010

Soon after Apple released the latest iPhone last month, consumers found that holding the phone in the usual manner - palm against the back, fingers along the sides - can reduce the device's signal strength to nil. This, to say the least, is a major flaw: One should be able to walk and talk on a cellphone without gripping it in some exotic way. To fix the glitch, Apple is now issuing free plastic-and-rubber bumpers that go around the phones and limit interference with the external antenna. Who would have guessed a glorified rubber band could save one of the decade's most-hailed devices?

Apple's responses to complaints have been mostly tone deaf. Before issuing the bumpers, the company told unhappy customers to simply hold their phones a different way. And in a press conference last week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs blamed the media for the negative publicity. After releasing a mobile phone that wasn't entirely mobile when used as, well, a phone, it's hard to imagine what kind of press coverage Jobs had expected. It didn't help that Apple admitted that all past iPhones have displayed inflated signal strengths.

This is a cautionary tale for early adopters, who might be slower to line up the next time Apple releases a flashy new product. Rubber bands may restore the iPhone's signal strength, but the hurt feelings among the company's usually awestruck fans might prove harder to fix.

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Monty Solomon
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