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Tess Vigeland: Users of the iPhone 4 got an offer they cannot refuse from Apple godfather Steve Jobs today. A free rubber “bumper” that covers the gadget’s drop-out-plagued antenna. Jobs apologized to customers for the inconvenience. But still insisted there’s nothing really wrong with the iPhone’s design, because other smartphones share the same problem.
Marketplace senior business correspondent Bob Moon tells us some marketing types wonder if that’s going to be enough, even for Apple’s famously loyal followers.
Bob Moon: Although he was conciliatory, Jobs was far from contrite. He opened his news conference with a customer’s musical defense of the iPhone 4.
Song: If you don’t want an iPhone 4 / Don’t buy it / If you bought one / And you don’t like it / Bring it back …
Steve Jobs: We saw that on YouTube this morning and couldn’t help but want to share it.
Jobs defended the iPhone at length, pointed fingers at competitors’ phones and suggested the iPhone 4 looks so good users just aren’t opting to buy protective casings.
Jobs: We’ve heard it from a lot of people, “Why don’t you just give everybody a case?” OK, great. Let’s give everybody a case.
The offer is good through the end of September, and those who’ve already bought those cases can get a refund. But Jobs insistted there’s “no giant problem” the company needs to fix.
Former Apple marketing executive John Martellaro, now an editor for macobserver.com, thinks Jobs came up short.
John Martellaro: You have to show that you’re taking care of your customers, not just saying that you’re taking care of your customers.>
He points out Jobs was reduced to claiming the iPhone is no less flawed than other smartphones, and that may force Apple to act a little less superior.
One PR expert we spoke to thinks the Apple loyalists will be satisfied. Patrick Kerley is with Levick Strategic Communications, he concedes he’s an iPhone user and Apple stockholder.
Patrick Kerley: I think in the long term, what will be remembered today is if the fix works, not whether there was an apology that was graceful enough.
Which is what Apple seemed to be banking on when it all but dared customers to return their phones.
Song: Bring it back / To the Apple Store / But you know you won’t.
I’m Bob Moon for Marketplace.
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