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What Will Apple Do or Say at Tomorrow’s iPhone 4 Briefing?

Apple’s called a press event for a select group of reporters on Friday July 16th, in all likelihood to address the furor over its antenna flaw.

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Apple’s called a press event for a select group of reporters on Friday July 16th. The corporate line is simply that it’s about iPhone 4. But in all likelihood it’s related to the furor over the new phone’s antenna problems.

The media thrum about the iPhone 4’s antenna design is certainly five full bars strong. It was already pretty vicious, but a study from Consumer Reports (which is somewhat misleading, in my opinion) stirred things up even more. Analysts are now predicting the company will have to make the unprecedented move of announcing a recall.

Meanwhile, the iPhone is selling at astonishing, nay record-breaking speeds everywhere it’s already on sale (and with huge desire where it’s not yet available). Where are the millions of disgruntled consumers complaining about a dud device?

Still, Apple has decided to step up to the mark and address the press on the matter. So what will they say or do? We’ve had a think, and narrowed it down to five potential options.

  1. Denial Apple explains why the antenna phenomenon isn’t a problem in terms of real-world call and data performance for the average user. It does this calmly and scientifically. It makes its case extremely plainly, so that the invitees can spread the message through the press. There will be no free Apple-branded “bumper” cases, no refunds, and no recall. Because it’s absolutely not a problem.
  2. Refunds Apple explains why the antenna phenomenon isn’t a problem. It does admit that it could’ve handled the affair better, and will announce an expedited refund program for irritated customers. No free “bumpers” will be shared out and there’ll definitely be no recall–this isn’t an unsafe device, after all.
  3. Bumpers Apple explains the issue, outlines why it’s not a problem. It announces free “bumper” cases will be given to consumers who find holding the iPhone affects their call or data performance, and an expedited refund system for the those who desire it. There’s no recall, however, as the performance problems aren’t anything like an exploding battery or brakes that don’t work.
  4. Confession Apple fesses up to a design flaw with the phone that is minimal, possibly already addressed at production-line levels, and which has been blown out of all sense of proportion by the media. It announces a recall-replacement program for affected units.
  5. One More Thing Apple goes for any of the first three options here, and also announces some amazing new technology–either a new device (a long shot) or some impressive upcoming features in iOS (more likely) to pacify the press. Because really the only folks who seem seriously bent out of shape on this matter are the media.

These five are in descending order of probability, we think.

Apple’s famously mysterious and strong-willed (we don’t even know who’s
doing the presentation tomorrow), so we’re prepared to guess that Apple
could do something totally surprising and do or say things that aren’t
even mentioned in our list. Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber thinks so too:

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Sounds crazy, I know, but I think something big, or at least biggish, is
going down tomorrow. This is not one of those “hunches” I get
where I actually know something and play coy; I could be wrong and the
thing could wind up just being 20 minutes of Steve Jobs telling us “not
to hold it that way, or buy a case”. I’m betting on my hunch, though,
and flying out late tonight.

This isn’t the first time Apple’s reacted to negative press coverage, of course. In the weeks after the original iPhone launch, Apple announced a price drop, and refund to numerous early-adopters, at a special press event. Earlier this year, it also announced a special price protection scheme to refund cash to recent buyers of the iPhone 3GS in the wake of the iPhone 4 launch. Back in 2008, Apple offered to repair MacBook buyers who’d acquired machines with faulty Nvidia graphics chips. In all these case, Jobs’ company took a calm, measured response. So perhaps that’s all we should expect at 10AM PST tomorrow. 

To keep up with this news follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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About the author

I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise.

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