The company has been under storm for an antenna problem on its new iPhone 4, and Jobs is going to have to say something good to get people to shut up about it.
Without a doubt, today’s event is more about fixing Apple’s appearance and the public’s perception than anything else. Steve Jobs needs to make it look like Apple is in control.
And he needs to make sure that normal people — not tech geeks — have no uncertainty about the iPhone’s reliability, real or perceived. Especially with all the problems Apple already has to deal with, like AT&T’s network reputation, Verizon’s solid Android lineup, etc.
(Even if the antenna problem isn’t actually affecting most people, for better or worse, it has become water-cooler talk across the country. When I take out my iPhone 4, even strangers ask me about the signal issue. It’s ridiculous, but that’s the sad reality of the situation.)
So here’s the latest consensus:
- Jobs will NOT announce a total recall of iPhone 4 devices, according to a source — likely in Apple PR — who spoke to the WSJ. (The odds are 86% against an iPhone recall on U.K. prediction market Smarkets, for instance.)
- Jobs may announce that the problem is fixable by a software update, not a hardware update. This would be the best-case scenario for Apple. The New York Times reports that the iPhone 4’s antenna design “exposed a longstanding weakness in the basic communications software inside Apple’s phones and that the reception problems were not caused by an isolated hardware flaw.”
- Jobs may offer some extra compensation to iPhone 4 buyers who feel wronged by the reception problems. Perhaps an extra-long return period with no restocking fee. Perhaps a gift certificate to Apple stores so they could purchase “bumper” cases for reduced prices. Perhaps a free year of MobileMe. Perhaps a lecture on how to hold your iPhone the right way.
- Jobs may call some Apple engineers out on stage to explain why, other than the software glitch, the iPhone 4 antenna system is so awesome. Recall how proud of it he was when he first announced it: “brilliant engineering” that has “never been done before.”
- Jobs may also distract us with something “big.” There is a weird aura over the Apple press right now, with several plugged-in people predicting something big. This could range from something product-related to something completely different. Maybe Steve Jobs is retiring? It’s a stretch, but it’s always possible, now that the iPad and iPhone 4 are launched.
In the meantime, check out The Next 5 Apple Gadgets To Waste Your Time Obsessing About