Apple does the right thing at last for iPhone 4 reception woes

Steve Jobs may be brilliant in many ways, but his tendency to want to control all aspects of the narrative around his company's products blinded him to a golden cliche of retailing: The customer is always right.

It didn't matter whether Jobs thought complaints about the reception problem were overblown. Nor did it matter if other phones had similar problems -- if you set yourself up as a premium brand generating fanatical loyalty, the last thing you want to do is say "but others have the same glitch."

There were enough unhappy users out there -- many of them longtime Apple devotees -- that, well, suggesting people hold their phones differently wasn't the way to solve the problem.

I sure do wonder what finally caused Apple to change its tune. Consumer Reports refusing to recommend the device? David Letterman's "Top 10 ways you know you bought a bad iPhone?" Constant negative hammering across the media, with catchy phrases like "Apple's iPhlub?" A PR/marketing executive finally convincing Jobs that this was bringing down the brand?

Whatever the reason, Apple has finally done the right thing for its customers. Today's announcement that iPhone 4 users will be able to request a free case to solve reception issues should get Apple out from under the deluge of negative publicity it's suffered over the issue.

Sharon Machlis is online managing editor at Computerworld. Her e-mail address is You can follow her on Twitter @sharon000, on Facebook or by subscribing to her RSS feeds:
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