Archive for July, 2010

Apple’s iPhone “Fix” Running Into Problems

July 27, 2010

Less than two weeks after Steve Jobs held a press conference announcing that Apple would be providing free bumper cases to dissatisfied iPhone 4 customers, reports indicate that the free bumper program is need of a ‘fix’ itself. According to BNET, customers have run into a variety of issues in trying to claim their bumper.

Some got notifications that their iPhones weren’t eligible for the program, even though they ran the app from an iPhone 4. As one customer noted, the app wasn’t guaranteed to recognize the type of device and that a call to customer service was necessary. The customer service rep’s answer was that Apple had to “get the information into ‘the system.’”

One person complained of downloading the app to a computer and trying to sync to the iPhone 4, at which point the computer froze. Another found that the app refused to take the user’s ID and password, even though the combination worked to download the app. A buyer who bought the iPhone 4 in the UK and who has a UK iTunes account received an email after using the case app that the order was cancelled because Apple doesn’t ship internationally.

Others have experienced frustrating shipping delays, as they are forced to order the bumper online and cannot simply pick one up at an Apple or AT&T store. As PC World reports, the timeline that has been created on returning your phone for a full refund and receiving a free bumper puts customers in a tough position.

It’s awesome that Apple is granting full refunds, but you might not get a bumper in time to determine if it’s an effective solution or not before the 30 day deadline expires. And, by the way, just because Apple is willing to give you a full refund doesn’t mean that AT&T is willing to surrender your contractual obligation.

The estimated shipping timeline on all of the bumpers and cases available from the Apple program is three to five weeks. AT&T contracts aside, it seems that Apple should provide a 30 day window from the time the bumper is shipped to give users adequate time to work with the Band-Aid solution and determine if it’s effective enough to warrant keeping the device.

It is quickly becoming clear that Apple’s proposed ‘fix’ is no more than a band-aid to the problem, and not a very strong one at that. “Antennagate” has not ended and consumers continue to demand a more appropriate response from Apple to their concerns with the iPhone 4’s defective design.

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward

PC World: Apple’s iPhone Defense is Total Nonsense

July 22, 2010

PC World has some sharp criticism regarding Apple’s Antennagate Apologia.

In particular, the article focuses on Apple’s argument that “all smartphones have this problem.” While the article recognizes that all smartphones may have certain “spots” on them that, if touched, will cause some signal impedance, the problem with the iPhone 4 is where that “spot” lies:

“The same applies to the other smartphones Jobs mentioned: On the BlackBerry Bold 9700, for example, the internal antenna is located toward the bottom-center of the phone’s back side. As CIO’s Al Sacco demonstrates, you’d have to intentionally hold the phone in an odd and awkward manner in order to cover this spot and achieve any signal-dropping effect.”

“The iPhone 4, in contrast, has its antenna on the outside, in a place where lots of people put their fingers. That’s the difference — and that’s the key piece of information Steve Jobs neglected to mention when trying to defend his phone by bashing others. It’s easy to see why Jobs omitted this information; its very presence makes his argument invalid.”

PC World concludes, as we have here for weeks — this was a conscious decision by Apple to emphasize form at the expense of function:

“The reality here is simple: Jobs and his team chose design over function when creating the iPhone 4. No amount of misleading comparisons or flowery adjectives can mask that. (One of my favorite remarks from Friday’s Apple presentation: “We went to a lot of trouble to put this really beautiful line in the stainless steel” — referring to the line that, when touched, causes your call to drop.)”

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward

Free Bumpers Not Enough

July 19, 2010

If Steve Jobs had hoped that Friday’s press conference would put an end to ‘antennagate’ and silence critics of the defective iPhone 4, he is probably disappointed. While offering free bumpers to iPhone 4 customers may have been a step in the right direction, many are still unconvinced that Apple has done enough to honestly address the problem. Consumer Reports, whose decision to not recommend the iPhone 4 caused shockwaves, wants to see more before it changes its stance.

Consumer Reports believes Apple’s offer of free cases is a good first step. However, Apple has indicated that this is not a long-term solution, it has guaranteed the offer only through September 30th, and has not extended it unequivocally to customers who bought cases from third-party vendors. We look forward to a long-term fix from Apple. As things currently stand, the iPhone 4 is still not one of our Recommended models.

PC World echoed this sentiment, stating that,

“[G]iven all of the issues we’ve personally had with the phone, we cannot recommend the iPhone 4 to other consumers until these problems are. A bumper feels like a clumsy solution and the proximity sensor issues inexcusable for a smartphone of this caliber.”

Competitor smartphone manufacturers took exception with Jobs claim that all smartphones suffer from similar attenuation and signal loss problems as the iPhone. Research in Motion, who manufactures Blackberry mobile devices, issued a press release challenging Apple’s assertions about its phones.

Apple’s attempt to draw RIM into Apple’s self-made debacle is unacceptable. 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. RIM is a global leader in antenna design and has been successfully designing industry-leading wireless data products with efficient and effective radio performance for over 20 years. During that time, RIM has avoided designs like the one Apple used in the iPhone 4 and instead has used innovative designs which reduce the risk for dropped calls, especially in areas of lower coverage. One thing is for certain, RIM’s customers don’t need to use a case for their BlackBerry smartphone to maintain proper connectivity. Apple clearly made certain design decisions and it should take responsibility for these decisions rather than trying to draw RIM and others into a situation that relates specifically to Apple.

Nokia, HTC, and Motorola issued similar statements in defense of their antenna design.

Still others, including Slate, had issue with the overall defensive and condescending tone of the press conference.

I just wish Jobs could have handled this mini-crisis in a classier way. His data clearly show that the new iPhone is dropping more calls than the old one. He could have admitted a problem, offered a fix, and said, “We’re sorry for any trouble we caused you.” Instead, he sounded wounded and paranoid, as if we were all being ungrateful for not recognizing Apple’s contributions to the world.

Many questions still remain, including the validity of reports that Apple was aware of the defective antenna early in design stages and what will happen after September 30. Free bumpers may be a short-term fix, but in the long run, Apple will need a stronger band-aid.

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward

Apple Slapping a Bumper on the Problem

July 19, 2010

Apple CEO Steve Jobs held a special press conference on Friday in Cupertino, California to address the month-long discussion of the iPhone 4’s defective antenna design, which he described as ‘Antennagate.’ (video available here). Defiant and unbending, Jobs spent the better part of 15 minutes pushing back at critics of the iPhone 4, claiming “this has been blown so out of proportion that it is incredible.”

Jobs claimed that the antenna reception issue is one inherent to ALL smartphones, offering data and statistics to show that the iPhone 4’s antenna reception was comparable to that of other brands, or even the iPhone 3GS.

“The data supports the fact that the iPhone 4 is the best smartphone in the world,” Mr. Jobs said. “And there is no ‘Antennagate.’ There is a challenge to the entire industry to improve antenna performance so that there are no weak spots.”

Despite spending considerable time in a defensive posture, claiming no problem existed, Jobs eventually shifted tactic, and began describing the need for a fix.

“Now when we look at this data, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that there is a problem, but that problem is affecting a very small number of users. I get emails saying the phone works perfectly, and they can’t understand what this is all about. So we think it’s affecting a small batch, but it has to do with inherent problems in smartphones. But we want all of our users to be happy.”

As a result, Apple will be offering free bumper cases to all iPhone 4 owners starting this week and until September 30th. Additionally, those who have already bought Apple’s bumper will receive a full refund. Customers who have purchased third-party cases, though, will be uncompensated, and its still unclear what will happen after September 30th.

Jobs also rebuffed a Bloomberg report that Apple was made aware of the defective Antenna early in the design process, calling the story “crock.” Nonetheless, Jobs failed to state when they became fully aware of a potential defect.

Near the end of his presentation, Jobs explained that it took 22 days to respond to this issue because they did not want to simply slap a band-aid on the problem. Instead, it seems, Apple is content to simply slap a bumper on it.

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward

Mark Vlasic Op Ed on “Remembering Srebenica & Our Responsibility to do More”

July 19, 2010

Ward & Ward Partner and Georgetown University Adjunct Professor of Law Mark Vlasic publishes op ed in the Huffington Post, entitled “Remembering Srebrenica & Our Responsibility to do More.

Fifteen years ago today, thousands of Muslims were being slaughtered in Europe. Some were killed opportunistically, but most were killed in a full-scale military operation: hands tied and blindfolded, they were lined up before freshly dug mass graves and shot in the back.

In other cases, rather than bussing them to mass grave locations, their captors chose to murder them were they were detained – slaughtering them by the hundreds at a warehouse and theater, by volleys of gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades. Later, earth-moving equipment would be used to remove the dead – and perhaps some living – and deposit them into other mass graves.

It is estimated that over 8,000 Muslims were executed after the July 11, 1995, fall of Srebrenica, Bosnia, to the Bosnian Serbs. Like many of recent history’s slaughters, the international community was already present. A battalion of Dutch U.N. peacekeepers was responsible for protecting the first U.N.-declared “safe area” in Srebrenica. As the Bosnian Serb Army advanced on the city, U.N. officials declined to allow NATO warplanes to intervene until it was too late. The Serbs took Srebrenica without a fight and thousands of Bosnian Muslims fled to what they thought was the protection of the U.N. base in Potocari.

Rather than offering a safe haven, the United Nations expelled fearful Muslims from their base and watched as another European genocide unfolded. In a scene evocative of Schindler’s List–a case of life imitating art, imitating life–families were torn apart under the watchful eyes of the international community. Men and boys were separated from women and small children, never to be seen again.

I was one of the U.N. employees involved in the world’s belated response to that massacre. From 2001 to 2003, I worked as a prosecution attorney at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, where I helped investigate and prosecute the Srebrenica genocide. There, I met with survivors who had two hopes. The first was to be reunited with their loved ones. The second, however, was to see criminal prosecutions–not just of the perpetrators of genocide, but of the U.N. and Dutch officers that abandoned them to the Serbs.

Every year, international diplomats pause to remember the world’s most recent genocides. This week, we mark the fifteenth anniversary of the tragedy at Srebrenica. Yet, despite the memorials and pretty words, mass crimes are a reality in many parts of our world, including those on-going in Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. While dignitaries repeat their promises to “never forget,” much of the world stands-by and watches as mass crimes continue to be perpetrated.

It was never supposed to be like that. In the wake of World War II, after six million Jews were slaughtered in the Holocaust, the world united to form the United Nations, an international institution that would serve to protect against the darkest sides of humanity. Raphael Lemkin, the Polish lawyer who coined the term “genocide,” worked within this new institution to expose this kind of mass murder as the most heinous crime of crimes. In 1948, his efforts were rewarded when the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Within a generation, however, after the self-congratulatory applause of international diplomats died down, much of the United Nations stood by and watched as the history of the Holocaust repeated itself–not just once, but twice–first in Rwanda and then, in Srebrenica.

Sadly, the passage of time only seems to bring new slaughters in different corners of the word. The crimes in the Darfur region of Sudan have prompted world-wide outrage, and even an International Criminal Court (ICC) indictment of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir for genocide, but it has not prompted a halt to the suffering in Darfur, or the end to Bashir’s power in Sudan. And though we might pause to acknowledge ‘International Justice Day’ this week, which celebrates the ICC and its efforts to end impunity for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, such days have yet to impact the atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a decades-long conflict is fueled and funded by mineral resources used to manufacture our favorite smartphones.

The Enough Project’s “Raise Hope For Congo” campaign reports that “profit from the mineral trade is one of the main motives for armed groups on all sides of the conflict in eastern Congo – the deadliest since World War II.” Instead of waiting for diplomats to take action, “we must raise our collective voice as consumers and demand conflict-free electronics. By pressuring electronics companies to remove conflict minerals from their supply chains, we can help remove fuel from the fire in Congo.”

We say we will “never forget” genocide and mass murder. But each time we turn our backs to the current slaughters, we intentionally forget the horror that humans can inflict upon their neighbors. We forget the richness of humankind that is sacrificed to hate–and perhaps even worse, that which is sacrificed to inaction. Let us hope that our leaders recognize their responsibility and take action globally, and we recognize our responsibility and take action locally.

Mark V. Vlasic, a senior fellow and adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University, served on the Slobodan Milosevic and Gen. Radislav Krstic (Srebrenica) trial and investigative teams at the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, and is a partner at Ward & Ward PLLC, where he works on international law matters.

NY Post: “Apple Slapped with Glitch”

July 16, 2010

In anticipation of Apple’s press conference to be held at 10 a.m. PST this morning, the New York Post is reporting that Apple will be announcing a fix for the phone’s defective antenna.

A financial analyst directly involved in the phone’s supply chain told The Post that the company will announce a remedy that involves taking the phone apart and inserting a piece of insulating material to protect the antenna.

Until now, Apple has responded to complaints only by advising iPhone users to buy a $30 bumper to cover the integrated antenna.

“This is essentially the functional equivalent of the rubber bumper on the outside, but it’s on the inside,” said Ashok Kumar, a senior technology analyst for the investment firm Rodman Renshaw.

“The supply-chain partners are implementing the mechanical fix to units coming out on [the] manufacturing floor now.”

Kumar learned of the “fix” from contacts in Taiwan, where the iPhone is manufactured.

It was unclear if the repair can be done in stores, or if the phones will have to be sent to the company. Calls and e-mails to Apple were not returned yesterday.

Additionally, Apple has yet to respond to reports it had knowledge of the defective antenna early on in the design stages of the phone.

At least nine lawsuits have been filed against the California-based company, accusing Apple and carrier AT&T of knowingly selling a defective device, breach of implied warranty and other charges.

Dan Ward, who is representing clients in a class-action suit in Maryland, said the revelation that Jobs was warned strengthens his case.

“It supports our theory that Apple and AT&T knew about the design defect well before it was put on the market and deliberately deceived people,” he said.

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward

U.S. Senator Hammers Apple over Antennagate

July 15, 2010

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has weighed in on the iPhone 4 controversy, issuing a sharply worded letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. A powerful member of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Schumer urges Apple to “address the flaw in a transparent manner,” raising concerns with the discrepancy between Apple’s official response and reports that a defective antenna is to blame for reception issues.

July 15, 2010

Dear Mr. Jobs,

I write to express concern regarding the reception problem with the Apple iPhone 4. While I commend Apple’s innovative approach to mobile technology and appreciate its service to millions of iPhone users nationwide, I believe it is incumbent upon Apple to address this flaw in a transparent manner. According to Consumer Reports’ review, released Monday on its website, the iPhone 4’s signal-strength problem is a hardwire glitch triggered by gripping the device in a particular manner. This finding, according to Consumer Reports, “call[s] into question” Apple’s recent claim that the problem is “largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software.” Consumer Reports declined to recommend the iPhone 4 because of this hardware design flaw.

Given the discrepancy between Consumer Reports’ explanation of the reception problem and the explanation provided by Apple in its July 2 letter to customers, I am concerned that the nearly two million purchasers of the iPhone 4 may not have complete information about the quality of the product they have purchased. The burden for consumers caused by this glitch, combined with the confusion over its cause and how it will be fixed, has the potential to undermine the many benefits of this innovative device. To address this concern, I ask that Apple provide iPhone 4 customers with a clearly written explanation of the cause of the reception problem and make a public commitment to remedy it free-of-charge. The solutions offered to date by Apple for dealing with the so-called “death grip” malfunction-such as holding the device differently, or buying a cover for it-seem to be insufficient. These proposed solutions would unfairly place the burden on consumers for resolving a problem they were not aware of when they purchased their phones.

I also encourage Apple to keep its promise to provide free software updates so that bars displayed accurately reflect signal strength; I further urge Apple to issue a written explanation of the formula it uses to calculate bar strength, so that consumers can once again trust the product that they have invested in.

I look forward to Apple’s swift action on this matter, and once again laud Apple for its innovative efforts and service to millions of Americans.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward

Steve Wozniak’s solution for the iPhone 4’s reception problem “Carry a Second Verizon phone for backup”

July 15, 2010

Steve Wozniak, beloved Apple co-founder and aficionado of all things Apple, has experienced the iPhone 4’s antenna problems and candidly spoke of his experiences in an interview with a Dutch reporter.

After describing his personal experiences with the “death grip” and the iPhone 4’s signal issues in general, Woz offers the following solution “If you can afford it, carry a second Verizon phone for backup. Another option is to carry a Verizon mifi and rely on Skype on your iPhone.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the iPhone 4. Or AT&T!

Apple releases iOS 4.0.1, Doesn’t Fix Antenna Defect

July 15, 2010

Today Apple officially released its promised software update, iOS 4.0.1, which it claims solves a programming glitch affecting the way signal bars are displayed on the phone. Early reports indicate that the update does indeed accomplish this, resulting in a more accurate display of signal strength.

As expected, Apple’s iPhone 4 fix does not solve the antenna reception problems. CNET reports that,

So far the update seems to do exactly what Apple claims, which is to modify how the calculations used to interpret the signal strength (along with a cosmetic alteration to the bar sizes).

Most people still have problems where a “death grip” causes the signal strength to diminish; however, the extent of the reported signal variations is less. Where before the number of bars would drop to zero, now people are reporting one bar showing when they hold their phones in a tight grip.

Essentially, Apple has fixed the problem with the gas gauge, but continues to ignore the hole in the gas tank. Perhaps Apple will announce a new fix at tomorrow’s scheduled press conference, putting an end to ‘antenna-gate.’ But until they do, more frustrated customers may find themselves imitating Whoopi Goldberg and ‘killing their iPhone.’

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward

Apple Engineer Warned of Antenna Problems

July 15, 2010

On the eve of Apple’s iPhone 4 press conference, a report has surfaced that a top Apple engineer had given an early warning to CEO Steve Jobs that the phone’s antenna design could lead to dropped calls.

According to Bloomberg,

Last year, Ruben Caballero, a senior engineer and antenna expert, informed Apple’s management the device’s design may cause reception problems, said the person, who is not authorized to speak on Apple’s behalf and asked not to be identified. A carrier partner also raised concerns about the antenna before the device’s June 24 release, according to another person familiar with the situation.

If true, this story would undermine Apple’s assertions that the iPhone 4’s signal problems stem from a software, and not design, defect. Apple’s brand and reputation could be severely damaged, as consumers lose confidence in Apple’s design, marketing, and honesty.

“The stock is being impacted by general concerns about the impact this is having to the brand, and the financial impact, and the uncertainty about what Apple will do about this,” said Andy Hargreaves, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities in Portland, Oregon.

Apple spokesmen have refused to comment on the story and will not make Caballero available for questions.

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward