What does Apple plan do to about the iPhone 4's antenna problem and will it offer a public mea culpa in response to the bad notices that have followed iPhone 4 just about everywhere it goes? And will any of those responses involve the words "recall," "our bad" or "Consumer Reports"?
Those are the big questions for Apple following word that the tech giant plans to host an iPhone 4 press conference Friday morning at its Cupertino headquarters.
Details are scant on exactly what Apple plans to say. All Apple's been telling journalists is "show up" and "yes, it's about iPhone 4." From there come a number of possibilities, including whether Apple will respond directly to the Consumer Reports "not recommended" blog posts that have caused it so much consternation.
What's true is that Apple finds itself in an unfamiliar position: on the defensive. It has to say something -- even federal lawmakers are saying so. And although it's hard to confirm whether bad press for iPhone 4 has had material impact on sales of the smartphone itself -- Apple, you'll recall, moved 1.7 million of the things in the first three days of sale, and showed no signs of slowing down -- the hit Apple's taken to its image might be what's translating to its declining stock price.
Either way, Apple has its work cut out for it if it expects iPhone 4 to remain among the growing list of the top smartphones of 2010. Here are a few things to watch for Friday:
1. Will Apple Apologize? Apple's been taken to task in the past two weeks -- from Consumer Reports on down -- for the perception that it hasn't acknowledged key design flaw issues in iPhone 4. Does Apple go the contrition route, or the defiance one?
2. Will It Recall The iPhone 4? Whispers of recall have grown louder and louder in the past few days, with everyone from analysts to bookmakers choosing to speculate. A recall seems unlikely, but, then, so did a public relations nightmare for Apple with its latest and greatest iPhone.
3. Will It Offer Bumper Cases? The most popular theory about Apple's big fix -- at least for the iPhone 4's antenna issue, if not Apple's image -- is that it will offer bumper cases at no cost to users that will maintain the antenna while a user holds the phone. In its most recent post, Consumer Reports suggested Apple provide plastic-and-rubber bumpers or some kind of casing to mitigate the antenna issues. Several researchers have pointed out that such cases would mean a significantly lower cost to Apple than a full recall.
4. What Will The Tech Fix Be? Once it's clear what Apple plans to do to ease iPhone 4 antenna concerns for users that already have the phones, the next question is whether Apple will fix the antenna itself for the iPhone 4s yet-to-be-shipped. Apple has promised a software update to correct how the iPhone 4 displays signal strength, but more than a few observers have suggested that anything short of an antenna fix itself is a band-aid.