Apple have come under fire from rival mobile firms RIM, Nokia and HTC, following their press conference on Friday in which they attempted to address the signalling issues that have plagued the iPhone 4’s launch. Admitting that their phones “aren’t perfect”, Apple offered troubled users a free bumper case which should eliminate the signal issue somewhat.
Most notably however, the competing companies took offence at Steve Jobs claims that antenna problems were “a challenge for the whole industry”.
A joint statement from RIM’s Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie attacked the claims:
“Apple’s attempt to draw RIM into Apple’s self-made debacle is unacceptable. 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. 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.”
Nokia were similarly critical of Apple’s excuses. Their statement read:
“As we’ve all seen, Apple had mentioned Nokia in their press conference today regarding the iPhone 4. Antenna design is a complex subject and has been a core competence at Nokia for decades, across hundreds of phone models. Nokia was the pioneer in internal antennas; the Nokia 8810, launched in 1998, was the first commercial phone with this feature. Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying human behaviour, including how people hold their phones for calls, music playing, web browsing and so on. As you would expect from a company focused on connecting people, we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict.
“Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying how people hold their phones and allows for this in designs, for example by having antennas both at the top and bottom of the phone and by careful selection of materials and their use in the mechanical design.”
Speaking to Pocket-Lint, HTC choose not to deny the potential signalling issues smartphones can encounter, but preferred to point to their exceptionally low rate of handset returns for the Droid Eris model in the US. They claim that only 0.016% of customers had been unhappy with the device.