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Apple calls surprise news conference

Ben Parfitt
Apple calls surprise news conference

There’s no word yet on exactly what will be discussed there, but Apple has called a surprise press conference for tomorrow night at 18:00 BST – and with only one thing on the agenda at camp Apple right now, the speculation about what could be on the cards is reaching fever pitch.

It’s expected that Apple will somehow look to address the antenna controversy that has defined the iPhone 4 ever since its launch last month.

How it will do this is less clear. Free bumpers? Voodoo magic? Could Apple actually be readying a product recall?

The latter would have been thought impossible just a few weeks ago. But that was when Apple’s main problem was grumpy internet forums and idle speculation. In recent days the consequences have become far more real.

Following the publication of a damning review from leading US guide Consumer Reports (the UK equivalent would be Which?) the company’s share price dipped by four per cent on Tuesday night as recall rumours intensified.

According to the BBC, analysts estimate that a product recall would cost Apple in the region of $1.5bn. In contrast, free bumpers (a first-party accessory for the phone that both protects it and resolved the antenna problem) for all would cost around $180m.

Apple’s only reaction to the scandal to date was a quite remarkable statement emailed out to the world’s press. Unsurprisingly, this has done nothing to quell the storm. In fact, so absurd were some of the claims made (“we are also making bars 1, 2 and 3 a bit taller so they will be easier to see”) that the hunger for some corporate blood shedding has actually intensified.

Let’s not forget, either, that despite the massive problems the iPhone 4 sold 1.7m units in its first four days on the market. That’s 600k more than the iPhone 3GS and 1.6m more than the iPad.

Nonetheless, the whole saga has been a savage blow to the Apple brand, which is currently riding the crest of the biggest wave to sweep through the company in its entire history.

Unless the firm moves to proactively address the snowballing PR nightmare it risks jeopardising the frenzied consumer anticipation that now typically greets its every product launch. Just imagine an iPhone 5 launch with no queues, no sell-outs – and a world desperate to see not the device’s new features but instead to discover its biggest flaws.

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Tags: Apple , iphone 4 , recall , bumpers , news conference

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