Another Bite out of Apple

Aug 3, 2010

By Kerrie Spencer, staff technology writer – August 3, 2010

Here we go again, yet another lawsuit against Apple – and their main telco service provider AT&T. This time, the suit involves the less than wonderful antenna design for the iPhone 4. Users have swamped Apple and numerous law firms across the U.S. over the past few weeks demanding action and filing actions in federal court. The gist of the complaint is that Apple knowingly released the iPhone 4 with a serious and pretty basic flaw.

True, you can’t get much more basic than the fact that when you use the phone the wrong way, the signal drops out. Rather hard to be making phone calls with attenuated and spotty service. By the sounds of things Apple feels this whole situation may be a tempest in a teapot because the phone is still useable with some minor adaptations – like using it in a protective case. The iPhone’s antenna is a metal band wrap around job that is placed right where many people grab their phones and hold them during a conversation. If customers had the Bumper – a protective cover sold by Apple for $30 – they wouldn’t have this problem. Lawyers are pointing out that it’s indeed interesting that the phone was released to market with reception problems, but at the same time, the Bumper was also made available. In other words, if Apple didn’t know about the problem, then why bring the Bumper on board as a fix?

This should make for a series of interesting cases, some of which may achieve class action status. Evidently, there are also law firms not only advertising for clients with iPhone 4 reception problems, but there is at least one asking for iPhone 4 stories to be sent to them. But, back to the other side of the fence where Apple is insisting the phone “is” still operational, a fact that does carry some weight in a court case.

Depending on Apple’s point of view about being sued yet again, they may opt to just settle rather than go to court over this issue. Since there is at least one class action suit in the making over this technical glitch and the resultant poor service, that may indeed happen, as class action attorneys usually work on contingency and tend to drive their case toward settlement.

This whole issue could be summed up from the consumer’s point of view – the reason for the suits, of course – if you buy an expensive product; a TV, a computer, a tractor or a cell phone, when you turn it on, you expect to be able to use it. If you can’t, that’s another can of worms. This may get interesting.