Apple to give iPhone buyers free cases


When a design glitch in a smart telephone draws international press, it tells you something. But Apple claims a fix for its new iPhone -- a fix to what Jobs described as a shared problem for the industry.

In the same auditorium where Jobs has made so many headlines, and taken so much credit, there was a surprising admission during a Friday morning press conference.

"I can tell you, right now, we are not perfect," he said.

Apple was also picked on in the press and on YouTube. So Apple's response to charges of dropped calls and misleading signal bars on the new iPhone 4, which has sold three million units in three months, is that all smart phones have this problem.

Jobs also said the majority of Apple customers have never complained.

"If you try, you can make the bars drop, but it is OK for me," iPhone spoofer Jonathan Mann said.

Jobs cited data showing that iPhone 4's do drop more calls than the previous versions, but less than one per 100. He blamed the fact that more of those older models have insulating bumper cases.

"A lot of people have told us the bumper solves the signal-strength problem, Consumer Reports said it, so we believe in service. OK, great, let's give everybody a case," he said.

If only his influence had reached Apple retail stores, today. In Palo Alto, customers still paid $29 cash for a bumper case and will send proof of purchase later.

Even so, industry analysts score this as a win for Apple, a negative turned positive.

"Part of what was going on in 22 days was not data gathering. It was orchestrating a response," Gartner Industry Analyst Van Baker said.

It is a response to a crisis that Jobs says came naturally with big success.

"I see some of these people jumping on us. I am not sure what you are after here. Would they prefer we were a Korean company instead of an American company? Do you not like the fact that we are innovating in America and leading the world in what we do?" Jobs said.

Earlier this week, Consumer Reports recommended that customers not purchase the new units. It said Apple has taken a good first step toward identifying and finding a solution, but they added they still cannot recommend the iPhone 4.

In a recent test conducted by the magazine, the iPhone 4 came out with the highest score amongst smart phone users.

Jobs, in the meantime, says the company will provide free bumpers until September 30 and will reimburse all customers who already purchased the Apple version.

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