New iPhone 4 worry: cracked glass

Oct 8, 2010
Finance

A bizarre side effect of using a slide-on case for the iPhone 4: it could break the glass. Also, publishers look for new Android tabs to deliver the news while Yahoo Messenger will add video chat to its mobile offerings. Another ‘gate’ for Apple? In a story that takes forever to get to the point, Ryan Block […]

A bizarre side effect of using a slide-on case for the iPhone 4: it could break the glass. Also, publishers look for new Android tabs to deliver the news while Yahoo Messenger will add video chat to its mobile offerings.

Another ‘gate’ for Apple?

In a story that takes forever to get to the point, Ryan Block of Gdgt reports that Apple (AAPL) has pulled third-party iPhone 4 cases from its retail stores because some cases may cause the iPhone 4’s glass enclosure to crack along the back.

“Apple has apparently found that non-bumper style cases — specifically those that slide onto the iPhone 4, which are occasionally prone to particulate matter getting caught between the rear of the phone and the case — can cause unexpected scratching that could quickly develop into full-on cracking or even much larger fracturing of the entire rear pane of glass,” Block writes. “To put it another way: Apple is afraid you might buy a standard slide-on iPhone case, put it on your phone, and then discover the next time you take it off that the entire back of your device has been shattered by no fault of your own.”

As a result, such slide-on cases have been pulled from stores but recently re-appeared online, he reports. “Internally, I’ve heard the iPhone team has grown to be very concerned by this issue with slide-on cases, and has created a lab and large new test program specifically to investigate this further.”

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Block is calling this issue “glassgate” and correctly notes it is a blow to the third-party case makers that have made a mint selling iPhone accessories. But how serious is this issue? It’s not hard to find a picture of cracked iPhone 4, but that could be because some people have slippery fingers.

Apple hasn’t commented on this issue yet but it probably will not escalate into a public mea culpa from Steve Jobs, as did the so-called antenna gate issue. Since Apple’s bumper does not slide onto the phone, it can just tell concerned customers to buy that.

A Galaxy of news

As expected, publishers aren’t placing all their eggs in an iPad case. The Wall Street Journal reports that the New York Times, USA Today and the Journal’s owner, News Corp., are developing apps for Samsung’s (005930.KS) coming Galaxy tablet computer. The tablet, which runs on Android, is expected to arrive soon at the nation’s wireless carriers. (This previous report on the Galaxy tab includes a sweet video demo. Meanwhile, the Boy Genius Report notes that a Sprint Galaxy tab could arrive Nov. 14 and sell for $399.)

The readership potential from these iPad alternatives is obviously large, as we are just at the beginning of the touch-screen tablet era. The publishers want the app to work on other Android tabs, as many are expected to hit the market over the next six months. Motorola (MOT), Amazon (AMZN) and Dell (DELL) are expected to introduce Android-based tabs, while Microsoft (MSFT) and Research in Motion (the BlackBerry PlayBook) are also developing products.

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According to the Journal, news-reading iPad apps are popular. Owners of iPads have downloaded 1 million USA Today apps, 650,000 for the Wall Street Journal and 570,000 for the New York Times.

Yahoo app adds video

Fans of Yahoo’s (YHOO) Messenger service who own an Android phone or an iPhone will soon have a video-calling service to rival FaceTime, according to Reuters. The Yahoo Messenger app already receives high marks from Appolicious readers for its instant messaging capabilities, so a video component should be a welcome addition. Other apps, such as Fring, also allow for video calls.

According to Reuters, the free app “will allow smartphone users to not only conduct video calls with each other, but with anyone that currently uses Yahoo Messenger for video calls on their PCs, according to Katz. (That’s David Katz, Yahoo’s VP of Mobile for the Americas region.) And unlike FaceTime, Yahoo’s mobile Messenger video calling app will work not only over a WiFi connection, but over a carrier’s standard wireless network.”

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Eric Benderoff

Eric Benderoff is the principal of BendableMedia.com, an editorial services firm, and a founding member of the Appolicious content strategy team. His personal technology column for the Chicago Tribune has appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide. He is a regular guest on Chicago's WGN Radio and is a frequent commentator about consumer technology on national TV news programs.

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