Co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have released an official response from RIM to Apple's iPhone 4 press conference yesterday and Steve Jobs' demonstration of a BlackBerry Bold 9700 suffering from similar signal-drop when death-gripped:
"Apple's attempt to draw RIM into Apple's self-made debacle is unacceptable. Apple's claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public's understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple's difficult situation. RIM is a global leader in antenna design and has been successfully designing industry-leading wireless data products with efficient and effective radio performance for over 20 years. During that time, RIM has avoided designs like the one Apple used in the iPhone 4 and instead has used innovative designs which reduce the risk for dropped calls, especially in areas of lower coverage. One thing is for certain, RIM's customers don't need to use a case for their BlackBerry smartphone to maintain proper connectivity. Apple clearly made certain design decisions and it should take responsibility for these decisions rather than trying to draw RIM and others into a situation that relates specifically to Apple."
CrackBerry Kevin ran a death-grip poll on CrackBerry.com and as of this writing 14% had the death-grip, 72% did not, and 14% saw bars drop but come back.
When you factor in that we don't know how RIM calculates bars, what dropping and coming back up means, and add the crucial crazy that makes iPhone 4 antenna issues so maddening -- that not everyone has them, and the whole situation has snowballed into equal parts fact and frenzy,
Steve Jobs might have done better mentioning the industry-wide death-grip problem as a bullet point and saving the videos for the Q&A if he got called on it because there was every chance it could come back to bite him in the a$$. Likewise, RIM might have been better off not making a public statement, going with humor, and letting the public weigh in for a while because this can now come back and bite them in their own co-a$$es. Why?
Same reason Steve Jobs' should never have sent that "hold different, get a case" email response. RIM has now cued everyone in a weak signal with a BlackBerry to rev up their YouTube engines and start asking for free cases. TiPb's already getting email:
I reported last week to [that] I could do just what Apple said in their news conference today, it was nothing against Blackberry. I own a Bold 9700 and a iphone 4 and my statement was it was no big deal. This is my third Blackberry and third iPhone. For you to say you have avoided the problem is in fact a misstatement. Your phone does the same thing without a case on it that the iPhone does and it does no harm to either phone.
Now for the big question Since my Bold 9700 does what the iPhone does are you going to fix my phone because it must be defective.
Thank You, Dwight
TiPb's own Alli Kazmucha, who's in a weak signal area, has been able to reproduce the BlackBerry Bold 9700 death-grip as well:
I managed to replicate [the death-grip] on a 9700 in less than 15 seconds, and on a 3GS.
We have bad coverage around a certain area in town, and like Apple said, in poor coverage areas it can be replicated. People forget that key point.
I've replicated it on my iPhone 3GS as well.
Nokia and RIM have both chosen to respond. We'll see if Samsung does as well, and if HTC and Motorola decide to get into "antennagate" as well. One thing's for certain, Phil Nickinson from Android Central is right when he says any new phone that gets released from any company now is going to be under increased -- and in some cases ridiculous -- antenna scrutiny.
Video after the break.
Update: Boy Genius shows the BlackBerry 9650 on Verizon dropping to one bar when death-gripped in the second video after the break...