RIM, Samsung, others hit back at Apple over antenna issues

Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) competitors, including Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) and HTC, roared their disapproval over Apple CEO Steve Jobs' lumping of their phones in with the iPhone 4 in trying to explain the device's antenna issues.

Apple contends other phones suffer from similar performance issues, including the BlackBerry Bold 9700.A key part of Jobs' defense Friday of the iPhone 4 was that all smartphones suffer from antenna issues similar to the ones affecting iPhone 4 users. As part of his demonstration during Apple's press conference, Jobs offered videos showing similar antenna issues affecting RIM's BlackBerry Bold 9700, HTC's Droid Eris and Samsung's Omnia II.

Needless to say, the companies were not pleased.

"Apple's attempt to draw RIM into Apple's self-made debacle is unacceptable," RIM's co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsille said in a statement. "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."

"We have not received significant customer feedback on any signal reduction issue for the Omnia II," Samsung said in a statement.

"The reception problems are certainly not common among smartphones," HTC CFO Hui-Meng Cheng told the Wall Street Journal. "They (Apple) apparently didn't give operators enough time to test the phone."

Last week, Consumer Reports engineers said they found that when a users' hand or finger touches the lower left side of the iPhone 4, it can cause the phone to lose its connection, particularly if it's already in a weak signal area. Consumer Reports engineers said they did not see similar problems on other AT&T phones. (During Apple's press conference, Jobs said he was "stunned and upset by the Consumer Reports stuff that came out this week," according to a Wall Street Journal live blog of the event.)

Jobs apologized to customers who have experienced issues, but said the media has blown the whole issue out of proportion. Nonetheless, Apple said it will provide free cases to iPhone 4 customers to help fix the issue.

Still, many of have taken Jobs to task for the figures he used in his presentation. For instance, he said that the iPhone 4 produces less than 1 more dropped call in 100 than the iPhone 3GS did. According to Slate, the iPhone 3GS has a dropped-call rate of 1 in 100, or 1 percent, meaning that the dropped-call rate of the iPhone 4 could be close to 2 percent, or double that of the 3GS. However, Jobs noted that the iPhone 4's return rate is 1.7 percent--far lower than the iPhone 3GS' 6 percent return rate.

J.P. Morgan said in a research note that Apple's press conference was a solid first step, but that the issue is not likely to go away anytime soon and that Apple still must work to repair its image. Apple reports quarterly earnings July 20.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Reuters article
- see this WSJ blog post (sub. req.)
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Slate article
- see this Financial Post article

Related Articles:
Apple: Free cases for iPhone 4 owners
Apple to address iPhone 4 problems Friday
Consumer Reports recommends duct tape for iPhone 4 antenna problem
Apple blames iPhone 4 reception flaws on software glitch
Apple, AT&T slammed in lawsuits over iPhone 4 antenna issues
Apple blows past record, sells 1.7 million iPhone 4s in debut