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. MHB

    No Senator we don't need you to pen a letter to Steve Jobs. What we need you to do is help get the US Government out of debt. We need less government and more real action from you.

    Get off of your high horse and get your hands dirty with helping with real problems.

    While I didn't see you were a Democrat, I am not surprised.

    July 15, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. Ty, Minnesota

    That's what the Apple freaks get for jumping on the Iphone 4 so early. Obvious, that Apple only cares about the bottom line and doesn't care about the quality of their products. They're headed down the same road as Microsoft. It doesn't matter what they put out or when, even if it's crap, consumers who can't wait until the bugs are fixed will still pay a fortune for it, while Apple laughs to the bank. I have no sympathy for those Iphone 4 customers who think that being the first ones to own one makes them look 10x cooler. We heard of smart phones but Apple is the first to put out a dumb phone. Fitting for those new Iphone 4 costumers, who don't have 'patience' in their vocabulary.

    July 15, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. TAC

    Does this guy have nothing better to do? If government action is required, which I do not believe is warranted at this time, the FCC or FTC would likely have some regulatory oversight. Hasn't Congress meddled in the private sector enough over the last few months? Will they not rest until they've driven every job out of the country?

    July 15, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. down with apple

    oh great microsoft, wise one, deliver us from this apple scourge

    July 15, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. Dave

    Ol' Chucky needs to keep his nose out of this. Besides, doesn't he have more important things to worry about (like taxing and spending the nation into greater debt)?

    July 15, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  6. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    While I have no patience with over-hyped Apple products or the arrogant treatment by the company of their customers, the matter of the iPhone antenna isn't the proper business of government.

    Most things sold in the US come with an implicit or explicit "Warranty of Merchantability" that basically says the thing will do what it's purported to do. If the iPhone design violates that warranty, customers are entitled to redress. This really sounds like class-action material if Apple doesn't voluntarily fix the phones.

    But it's absolutely not Chuck Schumer's business, nor that of the US government, to get involved. At most, it's a State matter.

    July 15, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. Tony 140

    What is Congress worrying about iPhone for????????? That's not what we are paying them for. I would say that the two wars, the economy, the borders and the deficit are just a few issues that trump Mr. Jobs' iPhone issues. I am sure that Congress is "smart" enough to figure this out for Apple – BUT REALLY. Mr. Schumer seems to enjoy technology and airline fees. Please get back to the work that we hired you for.

    July 15, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  8. KK

    Chuck S neeed to mind his own business in NY, rather than worrying about Steve Jobs/Apple/i4 in Cuppertino, CA.
    Are these the same politicians who do not even read the 2,000 page long legislations, and pass it for only political gains?
    What about keeping your own acts VERY VERY Transperant Chuckie?

    July 15, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  9. Frank

    Schumer never saw a microphone he didn't love.

    We're talking about a phone here, a relatively expensive commodity with hardly a lack of choice in the marketplace.

    If Apple screwed up, let its customers, would-be customers and stockholders vote with their dollars – believe me that will get Jobs' attention more than anything Schumer has to say.

    These are the same politicians who gladly took money from the telecom industry for years to divert attention from possible radiation hazzards from phones now deciding they should be in the design business.

    July 15, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  10. RichP, easton, pa

    This from the guy who wanted to put serial numbers on every bullet sold in the country or imported. Time to retire Chuckie.

    July 15, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. w l jones

    What his altonation to this bill? If have present to congress so they can vote on it.

    July 15, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  12. John

    Un-blanking-believable that this politian would put pressure on Apple about this issue. It is none of your business. The power trips of these people is outrageous.

    July 15, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. Greg

    Why on earth is this any business of Schumer's?

    July 15, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  14. DocOrlando

    Dear Sen. Schumer:

    Your kvetching strikes me as a potential sign that either you haven't got enough to do (either for your New York constituents or the nation as a whole) or that you'd rather spend your time insinuating yourself into processes in which you have neither responsibility nor expertise.

    Furthermore, by releasing your letter to the public (and thereby diverting the media from more worthwhile journalistic pursuits) you have branded yourself as an exploiting me-monkey, hoping to ride the coattails of this story to some free publicity: "Look at me! Hear my indignant harrumph!"

    Leave Apple to handle Apple's problems, lest you incite Steve Jobs to write you an open letter suggesting all the ways you and your congressional colleagues could improve the governance of our country. Turn your attention back to your constituency, lest they grow dissatisfied and replace you with someone more focused.

    Regards,
    DocOrlando

    July 15, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. SA in OO

    I can't believe Apple is putting short term profits ahead of long term brand loyalty.

    The marketing departments of all the other mobile phone manufacturers must feel like Christmas came early. They will study this one in marketing classes for years.

    July 15, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  16. Eric

    I saw the headline and said to myself, out of all the senators, I'm placing my money on it being Schumer. That's sad when he's so predictable. Facebook, Apple ... this is what the senator from my state is busy with???

    July 15, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  17. NY No Longer Voting for Chuck

    Rising unemployment, economy on the brink of a second down turn, two wars, a Senate unable to pass any bill but a terrible Health Care bill and my Senator has time to write an open letter to a company based on the West Coast to fix a problem. WOW! How out of touch is my Senator with what really needs to be fixed! So happy we get to vote again soon!

    July 15, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  18. Dar

    Am I hearing this right, our paid offical has time to complain about a phone. We are paying him for this??????????????????

    WTF, we need jobs pecker head, the hell with the phone problems. What happened did you buy one and dont like it. Back to work fool and do what we really pay you for. ( If thats possible)

    July 15, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    is this really what we want a United States Senator focusing on. Pretty soon they will be counting the number of M&Ms in the bag to make sure we are getting what we paid for.

    July 15, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. BobRoss

    This is stupid... Apple is a private company, and if they provide poor service, then customers can go elsewhere. We don't need senators taking their time to write Steve Jobs just to scold him on how he/Apple has handled this issue.

    July 15, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  21. Jim

    I wish lawmakers would stick to making laws and stop trying to bully people into doing what they want.

    July 15, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  22. Chris

    Hey CNN, not everyone lives in New York. Think you could do the bare minimum of acknowledging party affiliation with a (D) or (R) (the 'd' stands for 'democrat' and the 'r' for 'republican.' )

    I mean, to me that seems really simple and obvious but apparently not.
    It is, indeed, a part of their title.
    Thanks.

    July 15, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. jayh

    Yep, and Macs can get viruses too, despite what you might think...

    July 15, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. J. may

    seriously, this is a senators top rpiority given the economy, the gulf oil issue, and 400 other things i could probably list. Why do we ask why our country is in the shape it is in?

    July 15, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  25. No I-Phone for Me

    Even if you hold the phone the way they suggest there are so many dead spots with AT&T that it doesn't matter anyway. Fix the darn thing and get it on Verizon already.

    July 15, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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