UMTS problems said to be unresolved in new iPhone firmware
Another software update for Apple's iPhone and iPhone 3G has been available since yesterday evening. Apple is once more providing no information about the content of the new firmware 2.0.2, to the annoyance of users. This release has come out only two weeks after the previous version. The only information about the 248MB update, which is installed via iTunes, says "bug fixes". With complaints from users in the US and in some European countries about UMTS access problems, users are hoping that the update will solve the iPhone 3G's UMTS access problems.
Initial user reports say that little or nothing has changed in this area. The modem firmware has indeed been updated, from version 1.48.02 to 2.08.01, but there is little mention of major improvements on the official Apple discussion forum, which is populated by annoyed users. "The same poor signal as before", say many of them. Users who previously had no problems with UMTS reception do however report no new difficulties following the installation. Positive marks are being given to the fact that Apple has improved the speed of some applications, among them the address book.
Steve Jobs is said to have intervened personally in the UMTS problem. According to the "MacRumors" portal, one user has received an email from him saying "We are working on some bugs which affect around 2% of the iPhones shipped, and hope to have a software update soon." It is unclear if Jobs was referring to update 2.0.2. The Apple CEO is actually known to respond to the occasional customer email or make sure that someone in Apple answers the email. If the 2 per cent number is correct, up to 60,000 iPhones could be affected, depending on sales estimates. Apple is reported to be blaming the iPhone's UMTS problems on the German Infineon semiconductor group and the baseband chip used by the iPhone. These reports pointed to Apple correcting the problem through firmware updates.
On another front, Apple is still struggling with the MobileMe internet service which is still suffering sporadic interruptions. For the second time, Apple is giving all customers a free subscription extension for MobileMe adding another sixty days. John Gruber, who follows Apple on his Daring Fireball site commented sarcastically, "At this rate, they’re either going to fix it or we’ll never have to pay again". MobileMe now has a new official status blog where details of the extension and information about the state of MobileMe has been posted.