You might be surprised to learn that the return rate for Apple’s iPhone4 is less than a third of the return rate of the prior iPhone3GS, given all the press about that devil’s spawn, The Antenna. That’s one of the tidbits from today’s press conference that you might or might not see in a mainstream news story. Even if it’s there, I doubt it would be the lede.

I thought I’d mine the stories for data about the iPhone 4. Not too surprising, but the negative press lens that I recall from the 1990s seems to be firmly in place.

I’m getting an iPhone 4 next week (I hope – the order was placed last Friday) because my 3GS went for a swim (well, more like wading than swimming) in Katie’s water bowl. Thus I’m getting the phone a lot sooner than I had planned (with AT&T getting a $200 bonus for my early upgrade – more on that racket later).

With that preface, here goes:

  • Apple sold 1.7 million iPhone 4 units in the first three days. BusinessWeek
  • More than 3 million iPhone 4 units have sold since it went on sale June 24th. USAToday
  • Consumer Reports notes reception issues are non-existent if the phone has a bumper. USAToday
  • The return rate for the iPhone 4 to AT&T Inc. is only 1.7%: less than a third of the 6% return rate for the iPhone 3GS. (One assumes for the same sales period.) WSJ, BusinessWeek
  • The rate of dropped calls for the iPhone 4 is only slightly more than on the iPhone 3GS. WSJ
  • Thus the iPhone4 drops less than 1 additional call per 100 than the older iPhone 3GS. BusinessWeek
  • Apple has invested $100 million in antenna technology. BusinessWeek
  • Free bumpers: cost estimated at $3 each (makes that $29 MSRP look like gouging, doesn’t it?) WSJ
  • Was the press conference truly “hasily-called” (PC Worldsic). It was announced on Wednesday. Two days warning is “hasty”?
  • The iPhone accounts for about 40 percent of Apple’s revenue. BusinessWeek
  • The wait for an iPhone4 is now 2-3 weeks. BusinessWeek
  • Less than 1 percent of iPhone 4 users have called to complain about the phone. BusinessWeek
  • On July 30, the iPhone 4 will launch in an additional 17 countries. Apple Insider

A few other bits that aren’t in the mainstream press:

  • Steve Jobs calls the Bloomberg article “total bullshit.” ZD has provided a transcript of the Q&A. The Bloomberg article asserts that Jobs knew there was an antenna/recepton problem before launch.
  • Steve does not use a case. ZD
  • The NYT article that said a software fix is coming is “patently false.” ZD

One quote that sums up my feeling about this:

We’ve been around for 34 years… haven’t we earned the credibility and the trust of the press? I think we have that from our users. I didn’t see it exhibited by some of the press as this was blown so far out of proportion. I’m not saying we didn’t make a mistake — we didn’t know that it would have these issues, we didn’t know we were putting a bull’s eye on the phone… but this has been so overblown. ZD

About the AT&T Network:

when AT&T wants to add a cell tower in Texas, it takes about three weeks… when they want to add one in SF, it takes three years. ZD

This post first appeared at WiredPen

KATHY GILL, Technology Policy Analyst
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