Following my blog post yesterday , PC PRO magazine ran some commentary…
The number of customers affected by iPhone 4’s antenna issues is likely to be far higher than Apple reported, according to industry insiders.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs stated that only 0.55% of iPhone 4 customers had contacted the company’s support desk to complain about reception issue, in last week’s press conference.
However, that represents only a tiny fraction of the customers affected by the issue, according to WDS Global, a company that provides customer support desks for several leading phone networks and handset manufacturers.
Saying that everybody who had a problem would have phoned AppleCare is not a true representation of the issue
“Watching Steve Jobs, there were a couple of areas that smacked of under-reporting and devaluing the consumer reaction to this,” Tim Deluca-Smith, vice president of marketing for WDS Global told PC Pro.
“He cited, for example, that only 0.55% of iPhone 4 owners had called AppleCare regarding this problem. He’s basically making a comparison between that and the level of the problem.
“He’s saying ‘look, just over half a percent of our users actually phoned up, therefore it’s not the enormous problem the media’s escalating it out to be, this is a big fuss for nothing’. We had a few issues with that.”
First port of call?
WDS’s research shows that the handset manufacturer’s support line is the first port of call for only 5% of customers. Most will report technical issues to their phone network, or attempt to solve faults themselves using online support forums, or by asking friends and family.
“If you look at a technical support environment, more people won’t bother phoning up looking for a resolution than those that will. If you look at the mobile industry as whole, only about 20-30% of consumers will ever actually phone their carrier or handset manufacturer to report a fault,” Deluca-Smith said.
“Saying that everybody who had a problem would have phoned AppleCare is not a true representation of the issue.”
“If you look at the demographic of the iPhone user, they’re not the sort of user who’s going to phone up anyway,” he added. “These are the sort of guys who will talk to friends, participate in online forums and go and try and resolve their own issue rather than engage with an official support channel.”
It’s not only people visiting Apple’s support forums who won’t have been logged – customers who called their network soon after buying their iPhone 4 would likely have fallen off the radar, too.
“A lot of people would have gone to their carriers and said ‘I’m experiencing dropped calls, I’m experiencing poor coverage’,” Delucas-Smith said.
“In the early days, before Apple admitted there was a problem, the carriers wouldn’t necessarily have known there was an issue. Those calls would have been logged by a care agent as poor network coverage or there’s something wrong with the cell in that particular area. They wouldn’t necessarily have been ascribed to an issue with the iPhone itself.”
Apple hadn’t returned our request for comment at the time of publication.