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Pressure mounts on Apple to recall iPhone 4

Replace phone, rescue reputation, say PR boffins

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Apple is facing increased pressure to say there's more to the iPhone 4's antenna woes than iffy signal strength readout code and to recall all the handsets it has sold so far.

Suggestions from some quarters that it may yet be forced to do so sent the company's share price down by more than ten dollars from $257.33 to $246.89, though it later recovered a little to $251.50.

What appears to have cause the tumble are comments from US public relations specialists, quoted by blog Cult of Mac, who likened the iPhone 4 'grip of death' saga to the trouble Toyota got itself into over brake and accelerator problems with some of its cars - which prompted mass vehicle recalls.

“Apple will be forced to do a recall of this product,” Professor Matthew Seeger, head of the Department of Communication at Wayne State University, Detroit, told the site.

“It’s critically important. The brand image is the most important thing Apple has. This is potentially devastating.”

Added another crisis PR expert, Larry Burton, added: “Their response has been lacklustre. It’s been borderline irresponsible. They are in danger of betraying customers’ trust and hurting the brand, which is infinitely more valuable than any one product.”

These comments were followed by analysts to the tune that Apple is risking its reputation by not addressing the iPhone 4 problem more aggressively - especially now that the issue has gone beyond technology publications and into the mainstream media.

Or Apple's Stalin-esque clampdown on forum posters referring to critiques of the handset.

That said, here's no indication - according to a variety of analysts - that the issue is harming iPhone 4 sales. Whether that's a sign that punters simply don't care or are assuming the problem is minor remains to be seen.

It does seem clear that, for now, Apple's strategy appears to centre on weathering out the media storm in the hope of subtly introducing iPhone 4s with tweaked internals, or implementing better antenna technology in 2011's iPhone. ®

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