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Phonemakers cry foul on Steve Jobs 'We're all alike' attack

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Steve Jobs may have calmed some of the Antennagate ruckus with his spirited defense of the iPhone 4 on Friday, but he also stirred up a hornet's nest of response from other phone manufacturers, including RIM, Samsung, Motorola, Nokia, and HTC.

In Jobs' Friday press conference, and on a new section of Apple website entitled "Smartphone antenna performance", three competing smartphones are singled out for having similar signal-attenuation problems as the iPhone 4: the BlackBerry Bold 9700, HTC Droid Eris, and Samsung Omnia II.

The makers of those phones, as might be expected, aren't happy.

"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," wrote RIM co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie in a statement obtained by CrackBerry.

"The reception problems are certainly not common among smartphones," HTC CFO Hui-Meng Cheng told the Wall Street Journal, adding "[Apple] apparently didn't give operators enough time to test the phone."

Samsung VP of mobile communications Hwan Kim released a statement that his company "hasn't received significant customer feedbacks on any signal reduction issue for the Omnia II." Kim added that: "Reception problems have not happened so far, and there is no room for such problems to happen in the future.”

Nokia and Motorola weren't specific targets of Jobs' "All smartphone have problems" argument, but they chimed in as well.

Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone manufacturer, issued a statement obtained by PocketLint that took a dig at Apple's focus on style: "As you would expect from a company focused on connecting people, we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict."

Motorola's co-CEO Sanjay Jha told the WSJ that his company's testing showed what testers such as those for Anandtech have discovered: that the iPhone 4 suffers from greater attenuation than comparable phones when held.

Of all the responding phone companies, however, RIM's response was the most heated. "Apple clearly made certain design decisions," wrote Lazaridis and Balsillie, "and it should take responsibility for these decisions rather than trying to draw RIM and others into a situation that relates specifically to Apple."

And at least one expert in the field of corporate crisis-management thinks that Jobs' strategy is off the mark. "It's totally the wrong approach to take," Richard Torrenzano, chairman and CEO of the Torrenzano Group "strategic communication and critical issues management firm" told the WSJ. "There's no benefit to attacking those competitors," he said, adding that Jobs' tactic could damage Apple's brand and depress its stock price.

Which, of course, despite Jobs' "We love our users" assurances, is the bottom line. ®

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