Until very recently the idea that Apple might have to recall a product would have seemed ridiculous. It's one of the best manufacturers of stuff in the world, people would have responded; you can't make them do that, people love the products too much.
Then the iPhone 4 came out. It was hyped like the rest, it sold out like the rest - and only yesterday the Consumer Report organisation in America, usually in thrall to all things Apple, declined to recommend it to its customers. The reason? Because in spite of Apple's claims, the Consumer Report people believe the hardware problem people have been reporting is real and not a software glitch at all.
I'm going to stick my neck out here and say that whether it's flawed or not, even if it's in perfect working order in every conceivable way, Apple should recall the iPhone 4. The reason is simple: Apple has to win people's trust back, no matter how technically right it believes it is. There have been stories of the company censoring criticisms on its forums, and also of Steve Jobs sending high-handed emails out to users. Unusually, Apple just doesn't seem to get it this time.
Let me give you a counterexample. A few years ago a nappy (daiper) company suffered bad publicity when a woman said she found broken glass in her child's garment. Now, it turned out that she was lying in the hope of getting some compensation out of them, but the company didn't sue. The word was out there, so it overhauled its safety procedures, invited journalists around its factories and offered an expert on the end of the phone - OK, he spoke in a strong Norwegian accent but who cares, they offered someone.
They were aware by this time that there was no actual issue. But the word on the street said differently, so their PR and marketing team decided they needed to be seen doing something (and no, suing the woman wouldn't have done anything other than make the company look like a bunch of bullies).
I don't know the truth about the iPhone 4 glitch as I have yet to get hold of one. I do know I ordered another phone as a replacement for my iPhone 3G, took a look at it and through no fault of the other phone, sent it back. Once you've been iPhoned you tend not to look at anything else.
But even if stocks arrive over here I'll be reluctant to start the upgrade process before I'm absolutely convinced it's going to work. It's time, I think, for a futile and unnecessary gesture from Apple...