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. Larry from San Antone

    I'm best described as a moderate but I feel sort of "winger-like" on this issue. What does a Senator have to do with cell phone quality? Is that in the Constitution somewhere?

    July 15, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. justcarl

    I'd rather politicians focus on the multitude of issues plaguing government. Market response will determine Apples response, not this guy's lecture.

    July 15, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  3. KP

    Hmm, an insufficient response that hasn't been nearly transparent enough. At least Senator Schumer has a good basis for comparison in the Senate. I wish he would demand the same standards of the government. He may find it would get him more votes in the upcoming election than jumping on the iPhone reception issue bandwagon.

    July 15, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. Obozo's Recod Deficit + Higher Taxes

    This is a clear example of what's wrong with DUMocRATS.

    Stay the HEC out of it. The MARKET (Ie, us consumers) will drive the solution.

    July 15, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  5. joe

    to senator Schumer and all the est of you idiots in Congress and the Government–worry about running the country and keeping it from going bankrupt and let business worry about corecting itself... Enough is enough

    July 15, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  6. craig

    Thank you chuck

    This is what we need. All senators please take note. my cell droped a call, please drop what your doing dont worry about the 2 wars or oil in the gulf. wall street reform can wait and god forbid we waste another minute on houseing or Jobs. Yes I could always buy one a 1000 other cell phones that work just fine but why let the free markets decide whats best.

    Please Keep up the good work Chuck apple could do this without you.

    By the way I was using my DVR last night and for some reason around 8:30 the reception stopped on my Dish for 15 seconds. Please Chuck dropp what your doing and pen a letter to Dish network. this bad reception must stop.

    If my Iphone drops a call the terrorist win.

    I a Dem but my god just based on this letter I wound't vote for you

    July 15, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  7. Karl in Charleston,SC

    Aren't we fortunate that such a powerful legislator such as Chuck is spending his time worrying about his iPhone while millions of Americans are out of work, the economy is in a downward spiral and our borders are as secure as a screen door.

    Do your job or get one at Consumer Reports!

    July 15, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. TOTUS 4 PRESIDENT

    Letter to Chuck U Schumer:
    Chuckie, don't you have anything better to do than mug for cameras and to glom on to populist rantings? The market and legal system will efficiently take care of this matter without your meddling for political purposes.

    If Apple does not do the right thing, it will have competitors eating up its market share, and will be in court to fight claims. No Schumer needed.

    July 15, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. K from AZ

    Chuckie, with immigration, the economy, jobs etc., glad to see you got your priorities right.

    July 15, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. John

    I actually admire Sen. Schumer for some of what he does. But I also wish he would just shut the hell up some time. He has to comment and posture on everything. The Senate has lots of things to deal with. The Apple problem will be dealt with by the market and the legal system, not by some Senator..

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

    Hahaha. My HTC evo works FINE, thank you very much senator. And aren't there other things for you to be worrying yourself over? The iPhone 4 users rushed out to buy it before seeing that it for sure would work. Granted, Apple should never have released the product either, but I don't think our government needs to be involved in any way.

    July 15, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  12. Evan G.

    Why doesn't he write a letter to AT&T telling them they need to remedy their wireless service so calls can't be made or recieved and calls are dropped? They have been at fault for much longer and hold customers in contracts that leave no choice but to suffer. This product just came out give Apple a chance first.

    More importantly, why is he wasting time writing Apple a letter? Why doesn't he work on social security, medicare, military over-spending, corporate tax reform, climate change or any other issue that we as citizens need addressed by the government? If we think Iphones are poorly designed we don't have to buy them, but we all have to live with the effects of government policies.

    July 15, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. Tim

    Chuck, like your boss Barry, you have to know that this is a job for the courts, not politicians.

    July 15, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. Barry

    What business does a member of Congress have to do with Apple? With the many things that need attention in U.S.; how can a Congressman get involved. If he bought one, he can make his own individual complaint like everyone else. This, most certainly, is not his concern. Apple will have to deal with it in their own way. The time that Schumer wasted on lthis letter could have been spent addressing more urgent matters of national concern.

    July 15, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  15. Tresa, Michigan

    Screw iphone! Get the unemployment extension passed. Why do these people have time to worry about electronic toys? Get working on what they should be working on!

    July 15, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  16. swesttx

    Are you kidding me? A US Senator doesn't have anything better to do than advise Apple on how to handle an IPhone issuer? From what I've seen researching his activities the past few months he's written this letter, a letter to Facebook about privacy settings and a letter about the passing George Steinbrenner. Wonder if he does any real work? Hey New York – feel like you're getting your money's worth?

    July 15, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. Papasan in AZ

    Don't you have better things to do then worry about Apple's Iphone?

    July 15, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  18. Gregg

    Hey, worry about unemployment you ...

    July 15, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  19. Brian - Seattle

    Seriously? I like Schumer but this seems like left field. Why does he care so much? I bought a deficient razor last week...should he write a letter about that too?

    Gesh

    July 15, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  20. Adam in Colorado

    What does a U.S. Senator have anything to do with the woes of a product made by a private US company? Why is he wasting his time/our money worrying about something that consumers should influence only by the free choice of which products they choose to purchase... or not? If I were Apple, I'd tell Charles E. Schumer where to stick his iPhone for better reception.

    July 15, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    An open letter to Chuck Schumer: Get out from in front of the camera and do your job. You are a US Senator not a consumer rights advocate. Spend more time worrying about the economy and less telling Apple how to run their business. Last time I checked they where making money and you were just printing it.

    July 15, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. ted

    Have you read the letter? I don't see him "slamming" Apple. I simply see that he is asking some legitimate questions about the iPhone's reception issues that a number of consumers are experiencing.

    I also see it as a ploy by Shumer to get his name in the news.

    Another instance of CNN incomplete reporting. You guys need to get your act together!

    July 15, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. mike

    wow, thank you senator, for taking a stand on such an important issue.

    good thing the economy isn't tanking, there aren't two wars going on, and there isn't an ecological disaster in the gulf which might take precedence over a design flaw in a mobile phone.

    July 15, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. Tony

    What a joke our government reps have become. Why not try remedying our massive deficits and stay out of the private sector.

    July 15, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. Cody

    As a NY resident I am troubled that your attention is on the wrong Jobs. Instead of wasting time being a consumer advocate by writing to Steve Jobs about his problems with the iphone, it is my humble opinion that you should be concentrating on helping the President and the Senate focus on a jobs program to help Americans get back to work. American is waiting. Let's get something done.

    July 15, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
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