Rivals Dispute Jobs’ ‘Death-Grip’ Claims

Steve Jobs may or may not have put the iPhone 4 issue to rest on Friday with his dismissive press conference, but he certainly succeeded in aggravating his competition.

Asserting that every device ever made has that same issue That is just physics,” the Apple CEO showed video of rival phones from device-makers HTC, Research in Motion and Samsung supposedly behaving in the same way (i.e., dropping calls when handled in the wrong way). The rivals were quick to respond.

Outspoken RIM CEO Jim Balsillie was the most vociferous, issuing a statement with co-CEO Jim Lazaridis:

Apples attempt to draw RIM into Apples self-made debacle is unacceptable, Balsillie/Lazaridis said, as quoted on Apples claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the publics understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apples difficult situation. RIM is a global leader in antenna design and has been successfully designing industry-leading wireless data products with efficient and effective radio performance for over 20 years. During that time, RIM has avoided designs like the one Apple used in the iPhone 4 and instead has used innovative designs which reduce the risk for dropped calls, especially in areas of lower coverage. One thing is for certain, RIMs customers dont need to use a case for their BlackBerry smartphone to maintain proper connectivity. Apple clearly made certain design decisions and it should take responsibility for these decisions rather than trying to draw RIM and others into a situation that relates specifically to Apple.

Other handset makers responded in kind.

It is common knowledge in the industry that antennas on the outside of products have known issues, and despite the fact that they lead to smaller phones we have avoided them because consumers dont like being told how to hold the phone, said Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha in a statement (as quoted on While the whole industry has to deal with phones being held in different ways, it is disingenuous to suggest that all phones perform equally. In our own testing we have found that Droid X performs much better than iPhone4 when held by consumers.

Nokia bragged about the thousands of man hours it has invested in studying how people hold their phones and designing its phones accordingly, while HTC, ridiculing Jobs statement that 0.55 percent of iPhone 4 owners have reported problems, said that approximately .016% of customers for the Eris Droid have called in with mechanical issues. actually ran a poll asking BlackBerry users whether they can replicate the effect Jobs referred to. Eighty-six percent responded no, it’s false. It is said that in politics and marketing, deriding the competition to mask your own shortcomings is seldom a winning strategy. Apparently that doesnt apply if youre Steve Jobs.

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