July 15th, 2010
12:58 PM ET
4 years ago

Schumer pens open letter to Steve Jobs

 Sen. Charles Schumer penned an open letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs on Thursday.
Sen. Charles Schumer penned an open letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs on Thursday.

(CNN) - New York Sen. Charles Schumer on Thursday called Apple's suggestions for remedying a widespread issue with the iPhone 4 "insufficient" and urged the company to come clean about a problem that has many iPhone 4 customers up in arms. Schumer made the comments in an open letter written to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

"I ask that Apple provide iPhone 4 customers with a clearly written explanation of the cause of the reception problem and make a public commitment to remedy it free-of-charge," Schumer writes in the letter, obtained by CNN. "The solutions offered to date by Apple for dealing with the so-called 'death grip' malfunction – such as holding the device differently, or buying a cover for it – seem to be insufficient."

"While I commend Apple's innovative approach to mobile technology and appreciate its service to millions of iPhone users nationwide, I believe it is incumbent upon Apple to address this flaw in a transparent manner," Schumer writes.

The issue, considered by some experts to be a critical design flaw, occurs when users of the phone hold it in such a way that bridges the gap between the two antennas by connecting a small black strip located on the metallic band around the phone. The band acts as a series of antennas for the phone and users have reported mild to complete degradation of their signal when the strip is covered.

Read Schumer's full letter after the jump:

In a well-publicized e-mail to Steve Jobs from an iPhone 4 user who complained about the issue, the exec responded "Just avoid holding it in that way."

On July 2, Apple released a letter to iPhone 4 customers that blamed the problem on a formula that calculates the signal strength and translates it into bars that appear on the phone. Apple said it was "stunned" to make the discovery - much to the chagrin of online tech bloggers who have long claimed that the formula misrepresented signal strength.

Consumer Reports announced Monday that after extensive testing, they did not believe the problem was software-generated as Apple had claimed, and said they could not recommend the phone unless Apple fully resolved the reception issues.

"Given the discrepancy between Consumer Reports' explanation of the reception problem and the explanation provided by Apple in its July 2 letter to customers, I am concerned that the nearly two million purchasers of the iPhone 4 may not have complete information about the quality of the product they have purchased," the Schumer wrote.

Apple announced Wednesday it would be holding a press conference on Friday at 10 a.m. PST to discuss the iPhone 4. They did not immediately respond to our call for comment.

July 15, 2010

Dear Mr. Jobs,

I write to express concern regarding the reception problem with the Apple iPhone 4. While I commend Apple's innovative approach to mobile technology and appreciate its service to millions of iPhone users nationwide, I believe it is incumbent upon Apple to address this flaw in a transparent manner. According to Consumer Reports' review, released Monday on its website, the iPhone 4's signal-strength problem is a hardwire glitch triggered by gripping the device in a particular manner. This finding, according to Consumer Reports, "call[s] into question" Apple's recent claim that the problem is "largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software." Consumer Reports declined to recommend the iPhone 4 because of this hardware design flaw.

Given the discrepancy between Consumer Reports' explanation of the reception problem and the explanation provided by Apple in its July 2 letter to customers, I am concerned that the nearly two million purchasers of the iPhone 4 may not have complete information about the quality of the product they have purchased. The burden for consumers caused by this glitch, combined with the confusion over its cause and how it will be fixed, has the potential to undermine the many benefits of this innovative device. To address this concern, I ask that Apple provide iPhone 4 customers with a clearly written explanation of the cause of the reception problem and make a public commitment to remedy it free-of-charge. The solutions offered to date by Apple for dealing with the so-called "death grip" malfunction-such as holding the device differently, or buying a cover for it-seem to be insufficient. These proposed solutions would unfairly place the burden on consumers for resolving a problem they were not aware of when they purchased their phones.

I also encourage Apple to keep its promise to provide free software updates so that bars displayed accurately reflect signal strength; I further urge Apple to issue a written explanation of the formula it uses to calculate bar strength, so that consumers can once again trust the product that they have invested in.

I look forward to Apple's swift action on this matter, and once again laud Apple for its innovative efforts and service to millions of Americans.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer


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soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. Video Guy

    Apple is planning to talk to the press on Friday. How about giving them a chance before you try to make political hay of this thing.

    July 15, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  2. Steve

    Please go away Senator Schumer. The market is infinitely more efficient to handle these things then government. I don't like the iPhone 4 glitch either. If I'm upset enough, I'll take my money and loyalty elsewhere.

    Your interference just shows your proclivity that government can do things better then citizens. It can't. You can't either. This is NOT what you're paid to do. Go eliminate a beuracratic and stupid rule that makes products and services easier to deliver overseas. Eliminate wasteful spending and give it back to the wage earners and job producers; a good place to start eliminating spending is to fire your staffer that came up with the idea to write Steve Jobs a letter. Eliminate that job, give my company his/her money, and I GUARANTEE you my company will create 2 private sector jobs.

    July 15, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  3. Rick in OP

    Senator Schumer,
    Before you start offering advice to successful American companies, can we please have a discussion of two of your favorite pet projects, i.e., FANNIE MAE and FREDDIE MAC.
    The last time I heard, it was going to take a trillion dollars to bail them out.
    And by the way, I noticed that you conveniently left them out of the Financial Reform bill.

    July 15, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. Marc L from NY

    I ask Sen. Schumer that he keep his nose out of business and free enterprise. It is not his job to make sure that the iPhone works good. How about this concept- if the product stinks, nobody buys it. Plain and simple, the market decides. We are not talking about a product that is harmful or a product that is a necessity. It is a toy. This really shows the Senator's true colors and the role that he thinks the government should be playing in our lives.

    July 15, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  5. BobH

    He has an unerring ability to bring enormous energy to bear on the most trivial issues.

    July 15, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Mr Jobs,

    tomorrow may be the Rubicon moment for Apple – possibly the single most important day for your beloved company, when you look back years from now – how you handle the Iphone 4 debacle will either keep the trust & love between us & you going strong (as it should) or cause mistrust, ill feelings & the slide that could eventually be Apples demise.
    I implore you to handle this carefully, with dignity, grace & humility – not in the patronizing, arrogant, uncaring way you did a couple of weeks ago when you spoke out "against" your critics & detractors, who were merely pointing out a REAL issue inherent in our beloved Iphone 4.

    Seriously, don't let this become your Tiger Woods moment – your Mel Gibson moment – the day Apple & Steve Jobs – truly loved by us all – fall from grace.

    July 15, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    If Apple could amplify the built in antanna to use the human body as an antanna then the problem would be solved but otherwise they should get ready to give out refunds .

    July 15, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  8. Don D

    why don't you do YOUR job and don't worry about Apple.
    They design and built a great product. They will fix it and fast.
    if the government worked as well as Apple we would all be better off.
    This is none of your business except you get in the news.
    The government would take a year to admit there is a problem, hold 2 different committee meetings for weeks, bring the CEO's in to grill them. Throw a billion dollars at it. and it may be fixed in 5 years.
    Go back to government and leave private business alone.

    July 15, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  9. Carl

    Open comment to Sen. Charles Schumer: Sir, I understand your position as a U.S. Senator puts you in a position to vote to approve or reject legislation passed by the house, and to confirm presidential nominees. I do not believe it gives you the authority to direct the day to day operations of privately owned businesses such as Apple. I would urge you to read Article I of the United States Constitution to review your authority and caution you to cease and desist in your intrusion in areas that are frankly, none of your business.

    July 15, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Reasonator82

    Do we really need a senator telling Apple what to do right after they announced they that will be holding a press conference. Talk about opportunistic exploits for publicity...

    July 15, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    Schumer the complete liberal scum who has never met a payroll or created a non taxpayer funded job is going to tell someone how to run their business. ROFL. This corrupt, inept politician should just get out of the way and let people who know what they are doing do their jobs.

    July 15, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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