Hours away from Apple’s (AAPL) moment of truth regarding the iPhone 4’s antenna-reception problems, the company’s relationship with consumers worldwide is on the line.
While Apple figures to come up with a technical solution and credit redemption for customers experiencing dropped signals on their new phones, the company’s real challenge will be in restoring its connection with a generation of fans and followers.
Worse than initiating a police investigation for the lost iPhone 4 prototype and prohibiting developers from using flash to program their apps, Apple in this episode ended up trying to throw consumers under the bus. Not happening.
If users are indeed holding the phone the wrong way, than tomorrow would be the world’s largest tutorial on how to avoid a “death grip.” A spectacle like that would make LeBron James’ “The Decision” special seem like the Shawshank Redemption.
We need a better answer.
Apple knew the risks all along
But as Bloomberg and the Wall Street journal are reporting, Apple engineers knew as much as a year ago that the iPhone 4’s state-of-the-art design could compromise call quality.
Emphasizing style over substance is bad enough, but ridiculing customers who spent hours in line to shell out hundreds of dollars for a flawed product borders on an unforgivable offense.
Humility doesn’t have to hurt
If any company in the world deserves a mulligan, it is Apple. While the global economy faltered over the last two years, Apple built a multi-billion dollar app ecosystem where independent developers introduce new innovations to every stage of life each and every day. The iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac are joyful inventions that truly make the world a better place.
While most iPhone 4 owners rave about the new features, a significant and vocal minority rightly feel shafted for buying a faulty product. They deserve more.
By taking accountability and acknowledging where it went wrong, Apple can restore its setting as the most admired company on the planet.