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


Filed under: Charles Schumer • Popular Posts
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. Dont forget to thank a Globalist if you dont have a job.

    They all make this junk for a quick buckand people are dumb enough to buy ithahaha,

    July 15, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. jerry

    I don't give a rat's hairy behind about the iPhone or its troubles, but where does Schumer get off thinking it's any of his business inserting himself in this? Who does he think he is? What does he plan to do, threaten Apple with legislation making it illegal to build a crappy phone? Talk about someone being full of himself and his own overblown importance. Next he'll be berating the head of the National Weather Service for allowing it to rain on his grandkid's picnic.

    July 15, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. Robert Teh

    Jobs needs to focus "again" in his products and not be a "softy" as previous Apple CEO's have been
    Just "FIX IT" Steve!!!

    July 15, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. Seth

    Shouldn't Schumer be occupying himself with a jobs bill, ya know like passing both the jobs bill and unemployment compensation for those who have lost their jobs.
    Instead he is chasing around after Apple and the Pan Am bomber – Can you say fiddling while Rome burns?

    July 15, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  5. Jim

    The country is at war, our economy is in the toliet, no jobs, no umemployment for those that need it and this fool is worrying about the iphone4? Mr. Schumer you are a waste and a sorry excuse for a Senator. I won't forget the next time I see your name on the ballot!

    July 15, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. Steve- Illinois

    A politician asking a businessman to be transparent!!!! I almost wet myself laughing at that hypocrisy!!!

    July 15, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  7. Corey, Maryland

    I still don't understand what everyone is talking about. My iPhone 4 works just fine and I haven't had any reception problems, just the same way my iPhone 3G worked fine. I think the people that have problems with it are just retarded and can't use electronics properly.

    July 15, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  8. A Guy

    But I thought everything from Apple "just works"

    July 15, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  9. Sean

    I'm sorry, but what the hell is a U.S. Senator doing writing letters to Steve Jobs? I can think of about 100 other things he should be doing. Besides, hasn't he ever heard of email?

    July 15, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  10. inofritzn

    Geez a liberal putting his nose where it doesn't belong. WTF are they interfering with private business for? gov. going to nanny all product lines now? Morons

    July 15, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  11. ja

    the senator is right , you would think its release was the second coming, don't mention the price

    July 15, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  12. Meidy

    This issue needs to involve a Senator ? Honestly ??

    July 15, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  13. Denver

    I hope Jobs tells Schumer to shove it, but then he would be guilty of lese majeste and subject to beheading.

    July 15, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. daleok

    This particular issue needs to be addressed by a U.S. Senator? Really? Aren't there bigger issues to make public statements about?

    July 15, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. ndginla

    Thank you Senator. It's good to know that those in high office are looking out for us. I can now sleep much better.

    July 15, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. Mr. Moderate

    Why is a US Senator getting involved in this? It's a consumer issue! Hey senator, once you get that iPhone thingy straightened out, can you do something about the plumber who tried to talk me into some unneeded work?

    July 15, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  17. K

    I'm behind you on most things but on this Chuck, get a life. Try worrying about , oh I don't know, the Gulf. Jobs (not Steve). Health Care. Immigration.

    July 15, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. cindy D

    This guy can't do anything right in Congress, and he has the audacity to attack one of America's greatest companies? What does he want to do, nationalize it? How about all the defective products we get from China?

    July 15, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. cnn always liberal all the time

    chuck, do your job and stay out of apples business. they will make their customers whole on this.

    fix the government

    July 15, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. ericdano

    Mr. Schumer, please clean up your own act first. How about actually posting bills online and letting the public view them LIKE YOU PROMISED? Or closing that Cuban prison? Or ending the wars we are in? Or maybe getting those Americans that are held in Iran back? Or doing something productive about the boarder situation in AZ? Or maybe FIXING the economy?

    You make me sad. I know you haven't had a real job since like the 70s when I was born. I know you are out of touch, but you are taking it to a new level sir.

    July 15, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  21. Pete Chaison

    Mr Schumer,

    We have thousands of barrels of oil spewing in the gulf, A economy that has been suffering for years, Also record foreclosure rate and unemployment. We still send billions of dollars to foreign countries and regimes that despise the U.S. for their oil. I could go on and on.

    It all has happened on your watch. get real, stay focused and do some good for the country and the citizens. Stop the grandstanding and showboating.

    We are all tired of it as it gets old. Very old.

    July 15, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  22. Eric

    Uh oh... look's like Chuck-You Schumer is planning an Apple Stimulus/Bailout/Clunkers program..

    Quick, get Barry on the phone... we're going to need a speech.

    July 15, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  23. Bedtime for Obonzo

    And why is this Schumer's business?

    July 15, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. Mark

    Schumer, why don't you stick to the business of cutting all the waste of the taxpayers money being spent by Washington and balance the budget instead of seeking to gain some political points by writing to Jobs/Apple. You might be able to learn something from Apple and balance the budget!! In addition, only a fool politician that doesn't know anything about technology or how to run a company who write a letter like you did. Excellent run companies (federal government obviously not included) don't jump right up to the microphone to give answers until they have done their due diligence with their own teams in sorting out the issues and then coming up with the CORRECT solution. I have COMPLETE faith in Apple solving the problem. You and most of the politicians in Washington and in other places of our country I have little faith in. Until you have run a successful company as Jobs has it would be a good idea to keep your mouth closed.

    July 15, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. Fisher

    Do you suppose Senator Schumer could concentrate on fixing the economy rather than fixing iPhones?

    July 15, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
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