Apple calls press conference on iPhone 4 issue

Image: Apple Announces New iPhone At Developers Conference
Apple CEO Steve Jobs is shown here on June 7, 2010 announcing the new iPhone 4. Following criticism of a potentially faulty antenna, Apple will hold a press conference. It is not known whether Jobs will preside.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images North America

Apple will host a press conference to discuss the iPhone 4, said a company representative. The meeting will take place at the company's Cupertino campus at 10 a.m. PT on Friday. Though no further details were provided, we assume that the conference will address concerns that the iPhone 4's antenna design causes increased dropped calls, and whether or not Apple will take action to remedy the issue.

It's been the hottest discussion since the phone went on sale last month, though in many ways, the drama has outweighed the reality. The issue reached fever pitch Monday when Consumer Reports said it would not "recommend" the phone, despite giving it the highest test score among all tested smart phones.

The antenna issue is real: In the new design, the antenna wraps around the outside of the case, rather than around the inside. When held a certain way, the phone can lose reception, and this can lead to dropped calls. However, this fault's impact on real-world calling is not clear, and there has not been any evidence of any significant iPhone 4 buyer backlash.

Analysts and pundits alike have speculated on what, if anything, Apple's "fix" might entail; these range from absolutely nothing, to distributing free rubber bumpers, to ordering a full-blown Toyota-style recall. Though "highly unlikely," Bernstein & Co. analyst Toni Sacconaghi said such a recall could cost $1.5 billion.

The bumper fix is more likely, as it could be managed via Apple Stores, and might be seen as a goodwill gesture, a way for Apple to save face. (Consumer Reports today said that the bumper does indeed "alleviate" the problem.) Analyst firm Piper Jaffray said that the bumper fix may cost $178.5 million — about a day's earnings for Apple.

This wouldn't be the first time Apple caved to public criticism. Three years ago, Apple caught heat for reducing the price of the original iPhone from $600 to $400 only a few months after its initial launch. To save face, Apple issued $100 Apple Store credits to those who paid the high initial price.