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Jobs may have had advance warning about iPhone 4 design

updated 11:20 am EDT, Thu July 15, 2010

Concerns of sr. engineer, cell carrier ignored?

As early as last year, Apple executives -- including CEO Steve Jobs -- were made aware that the bezel antenna on the iPhone 4 could cause problems, sources tapped by Bloomberg claim. The design team led by Jonathan Ive is said to have submitted several concepts before Jobs and other executives committed to the new antenna, which reduces the bulk of the device. Ruben Caballero, a senior engineer and antenna expert with Apple, is said to have used early planning meetings to warn about the possibility of dropped calls and the major engineering effort the new technology would require.

Apple is moreover said to have been warned by a cellular carrier that tests showed the possibility for reception issues. Whether Apple executives ignored this advice or assumed the trouble would be solved is not clear. A company spokesman, Steve Dowling, has declined to comment, and refused to make Caballero available for interviews.

One of the sources suggests that the fundamental weakness in the antenna design is the need to subdivide it into sections capable of handling different networks. There are seams in between each section, the person notes, and covering one with a finger introduces conductive material that interferes with signal. This is believed to explain why cases or even duct tape will eliminate the flaw.

While Apple is unlikely to admit much wrongdoing in tomorrow's press conference, the new revelations -- if substantiated, or even if not -- could provide fuel for several class action lawsuits. They may back claims that Apple knowingly shipped a defective product, committing fraud. Some critics have pointed out that the iPhone 4 bumper cases, Apple's first self-designed cases for an iPhone, conveniently cover little more than the antenna band.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    Bloomberg hogwash!

    There is simply no way that anybody senior enough to have attended those meetings would violate the Apple cone of silence. If Caballero has inadvertently disclosed this himself, he's dead meat.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -2

    Re: hogwash

    Um, you don't have to be in the meetings to know what was discussed in the meetings.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    How is this antenna issue a major design flaw

    if very few iPhone 4 users are having reception issues. Certainly the iPhone 4 would not be considered a defective product if only a tiny percentage of users were affected.

  1. c4rlob

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +9

    Familiar story for Apple...

    I find all the blur of guessing and accusations funny, especially since we've been through this before and we all know that Apple is more than capable of fixing the issue, sufficiently satisfying customers, and coming out on top.

    Step 1: a market gladly swallows crappy products for years (PCs, Windows, MP3 Players, and now smartphones).

    Step 2: Apple revolutionizes the market with genius and beauty that confounds and thrills everyone - men, women, children, seniors, humans, cartoons.

    Step 3: the market goes into blatant hack-job copy-cat mode; Apple-haters and people with lesser talent/taste use this as an opportunity to boast that "more choice" – no matter the substance – is better, and that Apple is some kind of dictator of "anti-choice".

    Step 4: the market holds Apple to an even higher standard of revolutionary-ness while actually praising other companies for finally figuring out how to catch up to Apple.

    Step 5: the market criticizes Apple for updating their revolutionary product too quickly because previous purchasers feel left-behind.

    Step 6: the market flips and criticizes Apple for not updating their revolutionary product quickly enough and for letting competitors catch-up.

    Step 7: the market entertains itself with parodies, mockery and disdain of Apple for temporary glitches.

    Step 8: Apple responds to glitches with quickness (compared to industry standards) and unprecedented customer service on top of their already glittering support.

    Step 9: without the profit-margin or ingenuity to copy-cat Apple's gold-standard of customer support and marketing, the market drops prices to regain the attention of consumers just in time for the holiday rush. Quality also drops, but it gets a pass for being cheaper and coming from companies less excellent than Apple.

    Step 10: Apple creates another revolutionary product in a market plagued by ugliness and low-quality.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -3

    Re: Familiar story

    You forgot Steps 3a, 4a, 5a, 6a, 7a, 8a, 9a, and 10a.

    Fanboys criticize anyone with any statement that may be seen as reflecting negatively against Apple as being in the pockets of competitors, having ulterior motives, or just not 'getting it' when it comes to Apple.

    And you missed the step where Apple ignores the issue at hand and service techs tell users that they've "Never seen this before" regardless of how many times it has happened, until Apple magically decides it is time for a 'repair program'.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -7

    Re: Familiar story

    Oh, and who the h*** is 'the market'? Is that the analysts and wall street types? Is that the consumer? Apparently it's Apple competitors. So, what competitors are saying all these things about Apple that you proclaim?

    As to your steps:

    Step 4: the market holds Apple to an even higher standard of revolutionary-ness while actually praising other companies for finally figuring out how to catch up to Apple.

    Actually, the long-time Apple customer is the one holding Apple to that standard. Not the fanboy 'Whatever they release is the greatest thing in the world' customer. Just the customer who've bought Macs and iPods and iPhones regularly over the years and expect more from Apple than the other manufacturers. You're not going to impress these folks with just "Well, we're as good as Dell!".


    Step 5: the market criticizes Apple for updating their revolutionary product too quickly because previous purchasers feel left-behind.


    Seriously? Who in 'the market' is criticizing apple over this? You got some email from Ballmer saying "Ha! Look at Apple. Updating again. My kids are all pissed off because they now own last years model iPhone!"?

    The stock people love this, because they know that new releases mean more sales which boosts revenue which helps stock prices.

    Again, it is more the faithful Apple customer who ends up whining over this. And the only reason they whined is that ATT wasn't allowing them to upgrade at bargain basement prices.

    But it would be hard for anyone else to complain about this, because, above all else, Apple's update cycles are actually too long, not too short. Apple isn't releasing new iPhones or iPods or Macs every 3-6 months.

    Step 6: the market flips and criticizes Apple for not updating their revolutionary product quickly enough and for letting competitors catch-up.

    Again, who's complaining about this EXCEPT the Apple user wanting an update? Yeah, Dell's going around telling us how that you should buy a Dell, because they'll have a new one out real soon making your new purchase outdated. Oh, wait, that was the last one, wasn't it.

    Step 8: Apple responds to glitches with quickness (compared to industry standards) and unprecedented customer service on top of their already glittering support.

    Yes, there you go again. It isn't that their response is quick. It's just that it is quicker than the others. And their support isn't 'glittering' by itself. It only glitters, again, compared to the rest of the c*** out there.

    It's like Consumer Reports saying "Of these 5 cars we tested in head-on collisions, the Chrysler LeBaron fared the best in that you only ended up paralyzed from the waist down, compared to full paralysis or death in the other 4"/

  1. slider

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +3

    Blown Out of Proportion

    First, Apple should, and I believe will, fix any problem that's related to a flawed design. But the online tech sites are really blowing this whole thing out of proportion. Engadget pointed out in a post yesterday that while some users are being very vocal about the issue - the actual number of complaints is extremely disproportionate to the shear number of iPhones 4s sold. The answer is most likely due to the fact that most people put a case on their iPhones right out of the box. In my own sphere - I am the only person I know that does not regularly use a case on my iPhone (3GS).

    And again, Apple needs to fix this. But the fact is that for your average iPhone user - the ones that don't go online and visit tech news sites - they have a case, or after hearing about the signal issue just went out and got one and have moved on.

    And a third time, Apple needs to fix this. But I think the majority of users consider the overall user experience far outweighs the inconvenience of this problem.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -5

    Re: Blown out of proportion

    And a third time, Apple needs to fix this. But I think the majority of users consider the overall user experience far outweighs the inconvenience of this problem.

    But that doesn't mean there isn't a problem, or it doesn't afflict a lot of users. But just as there are always vocal users complaining about something, there's also a group of users who just live with an issue and either just consider it 'the way it is' or don't want to cause a fuss. I would suggest there's a large number of these types of users (h***, have you seen how many Windows users just live with some of the stupidity their computers do because they don't know how to fix it?)

    So you can't go by the number of complaints compared to the total number of phones sold.

    And the other point you have to remember. Most of these people complaining are doing so because they want to keep their iPhone 4. If it was a freakin' Zune phone, do you think there'd be so many complaints and demands for fixes? No, they'd just return the damn thing. But there is enough of the positive for most people to want to keep their iPhone 4. They just want Apple to fix it!

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -2

    Apple has been known to ship CrapWare intentionall

    MacBook plastic-splintering-palm rest is a prime example. To this day, they continue to swap broken parts with defective parts. California residents: unite. Your only solution is a MacBook Pro 13.3" as a replacement, or if you will, opt for the unibody plastic junk, which does not have FireWire and has other problems.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -3

    Oh

    First, Apple should, and I believe will, fix any problem that's related to a flawed design. But the online tech sites are really blowing this whole thing out of proportion.

    BTW, the biggest blame to all this being blown out of proportion goes directly to Apple. The easiest way to mitigate and dampen the online rage, speculation, and what not is to come out and explain the issue and what you're doing about it.

    And don't give me the "Well, they're waiting until they have a solution" c***. People just want information. They want to know they're being listened to. Apple's quiet just spurs people to being more vocal. Do you really think there'd be this much talk about the issue if Apple came out two weeks ago and said "Yep, we've got a problem. We're working on a fix. Hopefully we'll be able to do it with a software update, but we don't know yet. We'll keep you informed and should have answers shortly."

    But, no, Apple stays quiet. People get irritated and start to wonder "Hey, is Apple just biding time until 30 days has passed on the phone, then they can replace people's defective iPhones with refurb models rather than new models they'd have to do before the 30 day period."

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