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Live Blog: iPhone 4 News Conference

Matt Levine, Senior Editor, CNBC
Friday, 16 Jul 2010 | 2:28 PM ET
Steve Jobs talking about iPhone4 customer satisfaction at news conference on July 16, 2010.
CNBC
Steve Jobs talking about iPhone4 customer satisfaction at news conference on July 16, 2010.

Editor's Note: This was a live post from Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, CA, where CEO Steve Jobs and his lead engineers addressed concerns and complaints regarding the company's newest smartphone the iPhone4.

2:28 PM/ET: "I wish could've done this in the first 48 hours for you, but then you wouldn't have had so much to write about," Jobs says.

...and with that, the lights dim, the smooth jazz returns.

Well, that concludes our time with Steve Jobs... and the company's definitive responseto the frenzy surrounding the fourth-generation iPhone.

A departure from the theater for which we know Apple? Not even slightly.

Accountability and regret? In doses, mixed with a good amount of the multimedia-infused confidence and seemingly reason-based rhetoric that are par for the course when it comes to Apple-taculars.

Frankly, it was a balance well toed... and not sure how much better Jobs and the company could've performed.

Until the next time...

2:25 PM/ET: Good news for our international friends: the free bumper (or bumper refund offer) extends across the globe.

2:17 PM/ET: ...and for any investors looking for a clue as to the impact on the bottomline, Tim Cook teases ahead to the company's after-the-bell earningsthis coming Tuesday in which it will release quarterly results and updated guidance.

Make sure to tune in to the Closing Bellfor all the earnings news: Antenna-related or otherwise.

2:15 PM/ET: If anyone suspects Apple will change its messaging in the wake of the (Jobs-coined) "Antennagate," well... they won't.

It's clear that the company stands behind the product, as is, and Jobs alludes to the sales numbers thus far: their more immediate problem—meeting the demand.

2:07 PM/ET: Ooh. Quick hiccup with Jobs' microphone. Wonder if he touched it in the wrong place???

(I know. That was easy)

2:06 PM/ET: Put on the spot!!

Does anyone on stage use a bumper on their iPhone4? The three men promptly pull out a trio of phones... not a case to be seen.

Jobs follows that he's thrilled by the performance of his personal device.

2:05 PM/ET: In reference to the company's silence over the iPhone4 problems, the answer is due diligence, Jobs says.

He adds, Apple wanted to get to the heart of the problem before it spoke about the diagnosis. (Wait, didn't we see a press release already on the signal bar formula??)

...and when a company gets really successful, people want to tear it down. Google , Jobs notes, is a great company... but people unfairly attack it.

1:53 PM/ET: When pressed on whether the company has to decide between form and substance in its products - which is a bigger priority - Jobs points to the retina display in the iPhone: beautiful and top-of-the-line.

On another note, he follows that one of the learning processes for the company as a smartphone industry leader and more acutely in these 22 days of scrutiny is the importance of educating users on how smartphones work (or, apparently, in this case, don't work).

"Maybe everybody thought we were perfect... we are not perfect. We're just a band of people working our asses off to surprise and delight our customers. But we're human and we make mistakes."

1:46 PM/ET: About the Bloomberg articlethat alleges an engineer brought the antenna flaws to Jobs well in advance.

Steve Jobs Speaks Out
Apple's Steve Jobs discusses iPhone 4 and making users happy.

Jobs' reply: "That was a crock."

Zing.

He follows in emphasizing that the best ideas win at Apple, not who's highest on the org chart. The language just a touch too salty for this blog.

Think of a way of articulating a bull's excrement.

1:42 PM/ET: Jobs emphasizes that the company isn't feeling like it has a big problem that needs to be fixed.

If they had it to do over again, they would've tried to alleviate the weakspot issue... but nobody in the industry has figured that out says Jobs.

1:39 PM/ET: Tim Cook and Bob Mansfield, the company's most senior hardware engineer, now join Jobs on-stage for the Q&A...

...and the first question: How's Jobs' health?

He deflects it in saying he felt better earlier this week when he was on vacation in Hawaii... but he feels fine.

1:38 PM/ET: Jobs wraps by saying "We think we've gotten to the heart of the problem. And the heart of the problem is: Smartphones have weaknesses."

Amazingly, he admits to the initial demo of the device potentially being too theatrical.

Don't suspect that's the last time we'll see Apple go that route though.

1:36 PM/ET: Reminder from Jobs, in no uncertain terms: "We love our users."

"When we fall short, we try harder."

Interesting balance here between dismissing the significance of the concerns, and assuring customers that the company will do everything to make them happy.

1:33 PM/ET: .. on July 30, the iPhone hits the market in 17 new countries. More celebration for Spain as the World Cup champions can now use the fourth-generation iPhone.

1:32 PM/ET: "A free iPhone case for every user. Simple."

...and Jobs says, if you're still not satisfied, he reminds customers that any undamaged phone can be returned in full for 30 days after purchase.

Well, that's settled... on to some updates from the man.

The White iPhone? Starts shipping at the end of the month - ramping up after that.

1:31 PM/ET: ...and now to the solutions.

First, the company release iOS 4.0.1 yesterday, fixes the issue of its signal strength formula.

What about giving everyone a free case? It's a go. If you bought an iPhone 4 (or do so until Sept 30), you get a free bumper. If you already have a bumper, you're in for a refund.

1:30 PM/ET: He's coming full circle, like a defense attorney in closing arguments.

Anyone who thought Jobs would go away from his normal formula... sorely mistaken.

But he says, "We care about every user" adding, the company won't rest until it gets to the bottom of every customer's issue.

1:27 PM/ET: So, now Mr. Jobs floats to us his pet theory.

The new dynamic design of the iPhone 4 means that many fewer customers are walking out of the store with bumpers or other protective casing.

They want to show off the device.

Hence, "X" marks the spot.

1:25 PM/ET: ...and how about the much-maligned partner on the iPhone4:the good folks over at AT&T.

While Jobs says they can't release the numbers on total call drops in raw numerical fashion....as of three days ago when Apple got the data, the iPhone4 dropped less than one additional call for every 100 made than the 3GS model.

1:23 PM/ET: What are the return rates... he baits us. AT&T , he notes, has a satisfaction guarantee. In 30 days, you can return it for whatever reason you like.

When the iPhone 3GShit the market? 6.0% return rate, lower than industry average.

"So, what about our new flawed friend?" Jobs suggests you'd think it was half of all users, considering the frenzy.

The number? 1.7%

1:21 PM/ET: Again, we get back to a Steve Jobs bottomline...

Smartphones aren't perfect.

So, what did the company do? He talks about the focus on AppleCare, as they looked at how many users of the new device called in reporting problems.

The number: 0.55% of iPhone4 owners.

That's about 1-in-200 for those not up on their math.

1:19 PM/ET: Jobs now walking us through visuals of the incredibly complex tests Apple puts its devices through.

The state-of-the-art facility that includes 17 anechoic chambers, cost the company $100m and employs 18 PhD scientists and engineers... looks like a soundbooth of the future... or something from Avatar.

1:17 PM/ET: What's the punchline to Mr. Jobs?

Phones aren't perfect.

He then goes on to say "We're not perfect."

Mocks the fact that there's a small black line EXACTLY where the new iPhone has its weakness.

"X Marks the spot!"

Steve Jobs speaking at iPhone 4 News Conference, July 16, 2010.
CNBC
Steve Jobs speaking at iPhone 4 News Conference, July 16, 2010.

1:15 PM/ET: From Jobs still - Verizon's HTC Eris Droid Android phone?

Same issue... or that's what the presentation-slash-uberhand is illustrating to us.

How about the Samsung Omnia II? Yup. All of them behave the same way, Jobs says.

How you hold it impacts the reception.... IF tested in area of weak reception.

1:11 PM/ET: So, what does the research say?

How you hold your phone... and the impact that as on reception, not an unique issue for the iPhone.

Starts to mention some "credible" competition. How about the Blackberry Bold . We're seeing video of a hand, think iPhone commercial, gripping a Bold in different ways... and observing how the number of bars oscillates.

1:10 PM/ET: Jobs says they first heard complaints 22 days ago about "Antennagate" and they haven't had their heads in the sand... been "working our butts off" to understand the real issues, deliver real solutions.

1:09 PM/ET: Wants to talk about the problems before getting into what he'll be doing.

Diving into the numbers.

Best selling iPhone ever, highest customer satisfaction of any iPhone... of any smartphone... he says.

But...

1:08PM/ET: Here's Steve Jobs! Gonna talk for 15 minutes and then open it up for questions.

Starts by saying, "We're not perfect. Phones aren't perfect"

1:07 PM/ET: "If you don't want an iPhone4, don't buy it. If bought one and you don't like, then bring it back"

That's your chorus.

1:05 PM/ET: Presentation starting... User made video about iPhone antenna problems... mocking all of the device's alleged problems. cheeky.

1:01 PM/ET: As journalists and bloggers gathered to enter the event, plenty of attention being paid to Consumer Reports' Kevin McKean... as the publication's negative reviewof the iPhone's antenna multiplied the frenzy that leads us to Cupertino today.

Apple iPhone 4
Emmanuel Dunand | AFP | Getty Images
Apple iPhone 4

Here we are, in the auditorium at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, CA, where a crowd of eager journalists patiently await the 1:00pm/et news conference... presumably focused on how the company responds to the complaintssurrounding the new iPhone4's antenna design.

Truly an out-of-the-ordinary moment for a company known for its seemingly flawless products roll-outs.

What everyone wants to know is who will show up (Steve Jobs?), what Apple will they say.... and how - or if - they'll address the troubles surrounding the Phone.

For now, just an Apple logo on a screen... and some smooth jazz music on the speakers.

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