Apple must kill the iPhone 4 -- the sooner the better

Rather than follow its annual upgrade cycle for the iPhone, it must deliver a new model ASAP.

Image is everything. And that's why Apple must terminate the iPhone 4 as quickly as possible.

In his Friday morning news conference, Apple CEO Steve Jobs admitted the iPhone 4 is flawed, no doubt a painful admission for a proud man known for his perfectionist ways. He even offered free cases to alleviate the signal and reception problems plaguing some iPhone 4 users.

Jobs went to great lengths to defend the iPhone 4, arguing that the antenna glitch was overblown, and claiming that phones from other manufacturers suffer from the same problem. He also presented statistics to bolster his case: A measly 0.55 percent of iPhone users have contacted Apple support to report antenna or reception woes.

But none of that matters. The iPhone 4 is now tainted in the consumer's eyes. It's no longer a triumph of form and function, but rather a crippled device that requires protective headgear to work properly.

We could debate the merits of the iPhone 4's antenna design all day, but that's beside the point. Perception is reality here, and the public now views Apple's latest offering as The Phone That Drops Calls. And no one can blame AT&T this time either.

I'm not suggesting that Apple completely redesign the iPhone 4, which has gotten rave views for its high-resolution display and other new features. But the company must redesign the phone's antenna to eliminate the Grip of Death problem once and for all. A few minor cosmetic changes might be in order as well, if only to distinguish the new model from its dishonored predecessor.

Then, hopefully after rigorous beta testing, Apple will rename the phone and release it to an adoring public. Well, maybe not as adoring as before. There's bound to be more (healthy) consumer skepticism and less fawning next time around.

Apple needs to act now. Rather than follow its annual upgrade cycle for the iPhone--a relatively leisurely pace in the mobile phone world--it must deliver a new model ASAP.

Again, the iPhone 4 has lost its cachet. It's no longer the coolest gadget in town. People won't swoon over your new iPhone, they'll ask if you're having signal problems.

And, hey, how's that new bumper thing working out for ya?

Yikes. It's enough to force a mass migration to Motorola's new and very popular Droid X.

So, Apple, kill the iPhone 4! Remove all traces of it from the Apple Store. Indeed, drive a stake through its call-dropping heart.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
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