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PR Experts: iPhone 4 Hardware Recall Is “Inevitable”

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Jun 6, 2004
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The iPhone 4 “Death Grip” will force Apple to issue a hardware recall, crisis management experts told CultofMac.com.

Apple will be forced to recall the iPhone 4 following Consumer Reports tests proving the “Death Grip” antenna issue is not software related, but a hardware flaw, PR experts say.

“Apple will be forced to do a recall of this product,” said Professor Matthew Seeger, an expert in crisis communication. “It’s critically important. The brand image is the most important thing Apple has. This is potentially devastating.”

Crisis communication experts contacted by CultofMac.com, including Chris Lehane, former Clinton White House ”Master of Disaster,” agree: the iPhone 4 reception issue presents a Toyota-style PR crisis for Apple, and the company must respond with a more meaningful fix than a software patch.

Apple acknowledged the issue earlier this month but said the problem was caused by the way the iPhone calculates signal strength. The company has promised to issue a software fix shortly. Many critics viewed Apple’s response as spin, which was compounded on Monday by a devastating report from Consumer Reports saying the reception issue is hardware related.

Toyota has been severely punished for its foot-dragging response to concerns about the safety of the Prius. Toyota recalled about 10 million vehicles worldwide and its reputation has been seriously damaged.

“Apple needs to put this fire out now,” said Dr. Larry Barton, a leading expert in crisis management and author of Crisis Leadership Now. “There has to be a military-like response to this issue. And we have not seen this kind of urgency.”

Dr. Barton said Apple should quickly issue a statement that either strongly refutes Consumer Reports‘ tests; or admit the issue and detail some kind of hardware fix. Saying the iPhone 4 has a problem calculating signal strength doesn’t cut it, Dr. Barton said.

“They’re response has been lackluster,” he said. “It’s been borderline irresponsible. They are in danger of betraying customers’ trust and hurting the brand, which is infinitely more valuable than any one product.”

Consumer Reports is a well-respected publication with a long history of being impartial and fair, Dr. Barton noted. “Their advisory is a serious one.” he said.

Dr. Barton is a former professor at Harvard Business School, Penn State, University of Nevada at Las Vegas and Boston College. He was Vice President of Crisis Management at Motorola from 1995 to 1999.

Crisis communications expert Chris Lehane, the “Master of Disaster,” a nickname earned managing bad PR for the Clinton White House, said Apple dug itself into a deep hole with its software fix response, which was obviously rushed.

“It’s the ‘half-loaf’ approach,” he said. “Apple was under tremendous pressure to respond. They pushed out some information that wasn’t really baked.”

Lehane said the statement only raised a red flag for organizations like Consumer Reports to take a close look at the issue.

“They found themselves in a hole, and they dug a deeper hole,” he said.

Lehane contrasted this to Apple’s response to the price drop of the original iPhone back in 2007. Faced with a backlash from early adopters, Steve Jobs quickly published an apology on Apple’s website and issued a refund.

“You acknowledge it; you address it; you deal with it,” Lehane said. “Apple must protect its brand image, its crown jewels, at all cost. Apple has enormous consumer loyalty but it depends on whether people believe it’s credible.”

To protect its image, Apple will have to recall the iPhone, said Prof. Seeger, who is chair of the Department of Communication at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Prof. Seeger said Apple will likely delay a recall, and may issue a temporary “patch” such as free bumpers. However, a recall is unavoidable to protect the brand, which is more valuable than the cost of a recall, Prof. Seeger said.

“Apple lives and dies by its reputation,” he said. “We pay a premium for its products. We expect them to operate on a premium level. It’s very unfortunate, but they will have no choice but to mount a recall.”

Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment.
http://www.itechspot.org/?p=178

Seriously, Apple could have dealt with this swiftly by giving out free 10 cent covers like Nintendo did with the Wii Remote condoms... instead, this is just dragging on for no good reason.
 

Evlar

Banned
Dec 22, 2006
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Actually, providing a cover probably is the best direction at the moment. The brand will still take damage.
 

gcubed

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Mar 7, 2007
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i dont understand why they don't just give covers. They are causing their own problems nowadays, although i dont think a recall is necessary. They can still stop everything with giving out covers. I mean, i seriously didn't think this would stay in the news as long as it is
 

SmokyDave

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Dec 8, 2008
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ronito said:
I don't think the PR experts realize just how arrogant Apple is.
You're thinking of Public Relations. This PR stands for Phone Reception. They're Phone Reception Experts.

No it doesn't and no they aren't. Wonder who'll read the spoiler?
 

SimleuqiR

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May 5, 2009
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goo.gl
NeoGaf Experts: Apple Mega-Thread "Inevitable"

Every time I hear and read that word I think of this:

 

CrankyJay

Banned
Jan 26, 2009
29,153
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230
That PR company must not know Apple very well.

Steve and co. will just turn up their noses at this.
 

dorkimoe

Member
Aug 19, 2007
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I agree they could have just given out the free covers. But when I get the white one, I have had intentions of buying a case since before the "death grip" problem because..well its a nice phone and i dont want it looking like poopshit. I'm already dropping 300 on the phone, might as well drop another 30 on a case
 

borghe

Loves the Greater Toronto Area
Jun 18, 2004
23,394
3
1,575
www.borgh.us
itsgreen said:
I love how Apple first unveiled the antenna's as the best idea ever.
the external antenna actually is better than most other antennas. most tests have shown that it handles low signal strengths better than most other phones including previous iphones. The issue at hand is bridging the two antennas..

but from a technical level, the external antenna has had its merits proven. It's just a shame that apple didn't see the problems (or deal with them) it include a non-conducive coating around the antennas to pervent the bridging problem.
 

RubxQub

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Dec 15, 2006
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The Faceless Master said:
Seriously, Apple could have dealt with this swiftly by giving out free 10 cent covers like Nintendo did with the Wii Remote condoms... instead, this is just dragging on for no good reason.
The main difference there is that the Wii Remote stuff was almost entirely user error (Nintendo never stopped asking you to put on your strap and get some open space, not to mention there's no need to be swinging your arms that hard), while this Apple issue is entirely within the hardware itself.

A band-aid solution just looks insanely poor...a full recall would be the only reputation gaining thing they could do at this point, but recalling over 2 million iPhones plus tossing their entire production line currently in the pipe for a redesign is insanely costly.

Certainly an expensive move, but it's not like Apple doesn't have the cash on hand to do it. I almost wonder if they're waiting until they have a redesign ready to ship before they make an announcement or something...because it's getting close to critical mass on this thing and I'm pretty surprised they haven't tackled this thing head on.
 

Evlar

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Dec 22, 2006
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The biggest problem they face is the degree to which the marketing depends on the product's industrial design. It doesn't look as appealing wearing a rubber diaper.
 

Meier

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Jun 6, 2004
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I've had 3 people at work today mention the Consumer Reports issue to me. This thing isn't going away and Apple absolutely bungled it. Their arrogance is going to come back and bite them on this one.
 

Veidt

Blasphemer who refuses to accept bagged milk as his personal savior
Dec 20, 2008
14,127
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SimleuqiR, I have the exact same problem man.
Also, when someone says "It happens tonight" or just generally says something is going to happen tonight. I end up telling them "I know it does...I've seen it." :lol
 

dorkimoe

Member
Aug 19, 2007
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itsgreen said:
I love how Apple first unveiled the antenna's as the best idea ever.

It is the best idea ever...for AT&T. Now everyone is locked into 2 year contracts but cant bog their network down will silly things like phone calls.
 

SimleuqiR

Member
May 5, 2009
10,192
0
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Veidt said:
SimleuqiR, I have the exact same problem man.
Also, when someone says "It happens tonight" or just generally says something is going to happen tonight. I end up telling them "I know it does...I've seen it." :lol

:lol
 

Minsc

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Oct 1, 2007
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Even Top Gear is getting in on the fun ripping Apple (I have never seen that show, but apparently it's a big deal they are devoting air time for it)!

C'mon Apple, show us your wit at its best!
 

Technosteve

Banned
Oct 7, 2007
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995
class action lawsuit over iphone exclusivity was granted yesterday, maybe i get something out of it.

Apple never do recalls they just extend the warrenty :D
 

Minsc

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Oct 1, 2007
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I wonder what the chances of Apple stock getting knocked back to late 90s levels from all this are... I could have been rich if only.
 

borghe

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Jun 18, 2004
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you guys saying apple is arrogant.... smh...

apple isn't arrogant. They weigh the options between cost of fixing it on a mass scale and number of people affected. In the past, previous things they've been "arrogant" on have been situations of not being a large enough issue to deal with a recall or upgrade. A few things have been a large enough issue.

In this case, I am pretty much in agreement that they have to do something. It's become such a public focus that their image is indeed taking a beating, and they definitely know it.

it has nothing to do with arrogance. a company isn't arrogant.

about the most "arrogant" thing you can even point out amongst all of this is that yeah... had they admitted this from the beginning and given out bumpers for free they could have avoided the PR nightmare this has turned into for them. that was pretty dumb on their part. but the antenna issue at large? You have to be the most obvious apple-troll at this point to insist that they won't do something about it.. my only hope is that the something they do isn't a mid-life refresh and screw over everyone who already has a phone.. even if they offer a free bumper at that point, that will be some pretty major ill will built up from their most loyal customers.
 

xbhaskarx

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Aug 13, 2007
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Meier said:
I've had 3 people at work today mention the Consumer Reports issue to me. This thing isn't going away and Apple absolutely bungled it. Their arrogance is going to come back and bite them on this one.
ZUNE DEFENSE FORCE
 

Mrbob

Member
Jun 7, 2004
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Cracks in the Apple armor are starting to show. Only a matter of time before it falls off. This happens to every successful company. They get arrogant due to their success, and they need a mishap to occur to grab their attention once more.
 

itxaka

Defeatist
Feb 21, 2007
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1,165
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:lol :lol

They could also give android as returns instead of iDontWorks 4, as they actually work as a phone.
 

gcubed

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Mar 7, 2007
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Minsc said:
I wonder what the chances of Apple stock getting knocked back to late 90s levels from all this are... I could have been rich if only.

0%

while its a problem i'm not sure most people who are using this really care. The "i don't care" cartoon is fairly accurate
 

RubxQub

φίλω ἐξεχέγλουτον καί ψευδολόγον οὖκ εἰπόν
Dec 15, 2006
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itxaka said:
:lol :lol

They could also give android as returns instead of iDontWorks 4, as they actually work as a phone.
Damn, dude...
 

FoneBone

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Jun 7, 2004
15,206
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borghe said:
about the most "arrogant" thing you can even point out amongst all of this is that yeah... had they admitted this from the beginning and given out bumpers for free they could have avoided the PR nightmare this has turned into for them. that was pretty dumb on their part.
yeah, nothing arrogant about that. nothing at all.
 

Technosteve

Banned
Oct 7, 2007
20,935
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itxaka said:
:lol :lol

They could also give android as returns instead of iDontWorks 4, as they actually work as a phone.


who uses the iphone as a phone? peasants that's who
 

andycapps

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Dec 20, 2006
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Seems about right, it's a question of when, not if. The issue seems to be getting more and more play on mainstream sites and Consumer Reports telling subscribers not to buy is a huge deal. And yeah, sending out rubber bumpers won't repair your reputation, doing a recall and giving people new devices will. Rubber bumpers would have worked in the day or two after the issue was discovered.
 

KilgoreTrout

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Dec 5, 2008
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Good. I would like to hold my phone with the left hand without worrying how the hell it's positioned.

I haven't had that many problems with it still, but Apple needs to admit they screwed up.
 

Stinkles

Clothed, sober, cooperative
Sep 5, 2004
66,970
12
1,590
Arakeen
Meier said:
I've had 3 people at work today mention the Consumer Reports issue to me. This thing isn't going away and Apple absolutely bungled it. Their arrogance is going to come back and bite them on this one.


This is why sometimes, having a single individual running all aspects of the show, can be disastrous. I am forced to wonder if the fake cases they used to test the iPhone - and caused the Kotaku leak, are part of why they didn't spot this in testing.
 

gcubed

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Mar 7, 2007
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OuterWorldVoice said:
This is why sometimes, having a single individual running all aspects of the show, can be disastrous. I am forced to wonder if the fake cases they used to test the iPhone - and caused the Kotaku leak, are part of why they didn't spot this in testing.

that would be the only explanation, because it surfaced relatively quickly
 

border

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Jun 7, 2004
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A full blown recall will never happen. At best you'll get a free bumper case. Why would they replace millions of phones when the issue is so easily solved by a cheap piece of plastic?



itxaka said:
iDontWorks 4

Did you think of that all by yourself? It's hilarious.
 

avatar299

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Jun 9, 2007
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I've yet to meet a single iPhone 4 owner who doesn't like the phone. Who are they going to recall from?
 

fireside

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Dec 26, 2008
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borghe said:
you guys saying apple is arrogant.... smh...

apple isn't arrogant. They weigh the options between cost of fixing it on a mass scale and number of people affected. In the past, previous things they've been "arrogant" on have been situations of not being a large enough issue to deal with a recall or upgrade. A few things have been a large enough issue.

In this case, I am pretty much in agreement that they have to do something. It's become such a public focus that their image is indeed taking a beating, and they definitely know it.

it has nothing to do with arrogance. a company isn't arrogant.

about the most "arrogant" thing you can even point out amongst all of this is that yeah... had they admitted this from the beginning and given out bumpers for free they could have avoided the PR nightmare this has turned into for them. that was pretty dumb on their part. but the antenna issue at large? You have to be the most obvious apple-troll at this point to insist that they won't do something about it.. my only hope is that the something they do isn't a mid-life refresh and screw over everyone who already has a phone.. even if they offer a free bumper at that point, that will be some pretty major ill will built up from their most loyal customers.
Apple has been arrogant throughout this entire issue. Their official statement was “You’re holding it wrong” and then “Hey, it’s not our fault, it’s AT&T’s!” Give me a break.
 

Gallbaro

Banned
May 13, 2008
9,234
1
0
OuterWorldVoice said:
This is why sometimes, having a single individual running all aspects of the show, can be disastrous. I am forced to wonder if the fake cases they used to test the iPhone - and caused the Kotaku leak, are part of why they didn't spot this in testing.

Having one man run the show is even worse for the longevity of the company. When the man dies, Apple will loose half of its Market Cap in one week, simply because Steve Jobs is so much of the companies intangible value. And I will be there to profit.
 

Struct09

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Oct 9, 2006
14,355
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After reading about all the problems people have had with the iPhone 4, I feel very lucky. I haven't experienced any of the "common" problems (bad proximity sensor, slow 3G, etc) with mine, and I guess I grip the thing in a way that doesn't cause it to lose reception. I'm very happy with the phone, and if they were to issue a recall of any kind I would be slow about sending it in to get replaced.

Hopefully Apple comes up with something to help out those who are having major issues.
 

RubxQub

φίλω ἐξεχέγλουτον καί ψευδολόγον οὖκ εἰπόν
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avatar299 said:
I've yet to meet a single iPhone 4 owner who doesn't like the phone. Who are they going to recall from?
If they did a product recall in exchange for a fixed model, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Also, I'm already planning on returning this phone once the white ones are in the wild so I can pick that puppy up instead anyways. :lol
 

StuBurns

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Jan 9, 2008
69,543
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I don't believe they are going to. They have already made a statement claiming the problem is software based, if that's true or not, they will almost certainly stay with that line. A recall if anything is worse for PR, it makes it very clear they shipped a broken product. They can't make iPhones quick enough right now, the demand is overwhelming. I'd say it's better for them not to fix it and change the design for the 4G next year.
 
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