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Apple Chief Offers Fix for iPhone 4

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Mike O'Sullivan

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs addressed problems with the company's new iPhone 4 in an emergency news conference Friday.  The device has suffered from technical glitches since its release on June 24th, casting a shadow on a company known for its quality.  The Apple founder insists the problems are minor and are easily corrected.

iPhone 4 users have been complaining about dropped calls when they hold their hand on the device in a certain position, and of inaccurate readings on the phone's signal strength indicator.  

Consumer groups have criticized the company as complaints about the phone have grown in recent weeks, chiding Apple for not addressing the phone's problems quickly and openly.

iPhones account for 40 percent of Apple's revenue, so for the company, the bad publicity was a challenge.

Steve Jobs began the news conference with an apology, of sorts. "We're not perfect.  We know that, you know that.  And phones aren't perfect," he said.

Jobs said the smart-phones of some Apple competitors have similar reception problems, and that fewer than one percent of users of the new iPhone 4 had complained of antenna issues.  He said the company knew about the antenna problem but did not consider it major.  

Jobs said the issue has been blown out of proportion, and can be solved through use of a rubberized bumper, or case, to cover the iPhone and the metal antenna on its rim. He says Apple will provide a case for new iPhone 4s that are bought through the end of September, and will reimburse users who have bought one themselves. "Every iPhone user is going to get a free case.  One for every iPhone 4.  If you've already bought one, we'll give you a full refund," he said.

Jobs said Apple will also reimburse users who want to return the phone, but that fewer than two percent of buyers have returned them so far.  

Thursday, the company issued a software upgrade to correct the inaccurate readings on the phone's signal indicator.

Despite the negative news reports, Apple stores have had trouble keeping the iPhone 4 in stock, and more than three million have been sold since its release three weeks ago. The publication Consumer Reports this week withdrew its recommendation to buy the iPhone 4, yet still rates it the best smart-phone on the market.

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