How Should Apple Handle the iPhone 4 Crisis?

Last Updated Jul 14, 2010 9:58 PM EDT

So it looks like Apple is holding a press conference on Friday to discuss the iPhone 4 debacle. It's anybody's guess what the company will say or do, but it definitely raises some interesting questions.

The big one: How should Apple handle this? There's little question at this point that the iPhone 4's famed wraparound antenna is problematic, and that something needs to happen. But what? Here are some possible outcomes, and what I think of each:


Admit there's a problem Apple's initial response to the issue was that users simply needed to hold the iPhone a different way. Come on, guys. There's a design flaw here. Admit it, apologize, and offer a fix. Like maybe...

Free bumper cases for all Just about any case you slap on the iPhone eliminates the reception problem. Sites like Meritline and Cases.com sell perfectly cromulent silicone cases for just a few bucks. It would cost Apple, sure, but it would certainly cost less than...

Issuing a recall Apple could potentially recall the iPhone 4 and replace it with modified models that don't have the antenna problem. Just one problem: this would cost the company as much as $1.5 billion, according to one analyst. Even for Apple, that would be a bitter pill to swallow. Maybe it would be cheaper to...

Offer a credit It's not likely, but there's precedent: after Apple famously dropped the price of the original iPhone by $200 just months after launch, it tried to mollify furious early adopters with a $100 Apple Store credit. But what's fair retribution for a phone that's hobbled in this way?

My money's on free cases. It's a cheap fix for Apple, a smart PR move, and, most importantly, an effective solution.

What do you think? Is there something else Apple should consider? If you were wearing Steve Jobs' black turtleneck, what would you do?

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.