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RIM, Nokia respond to Apple's "Antennagate" press conference

Research in Motion and Nokia issued official statements Friday decrying Apple's use of their handsets to demonstrate signal loss in their press conference addressing the iPhone 4 antenna problem.

In response to a firestorm of criticism from the media and consumers, Apple held a press conference Friday to address issues with the iPhone 4 antenna. During the conference, chief executive Steve Jobs said the antenna problem was "a challenge for the entire industry."

Jobs then highlighted several phones also experiencing signal loss when gripped, including the BlackBerry Bold 9700 from RIM, Samsung Omnia II, and the HTC Droid Eris. He also specifically called out Nokia when he said, “You can go on the web and look at pictures of Nokia phones that ship with stickers on the back that say ‘don’t touch here’.”

Shortly after the press conference, Apple added a new section to its site to explain "smartphone antenna performance." The Blackberry Bold 9700, HTC Droid Eris, and Samsung Omnia II were again displayed alongside the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS as suffering from a drop in signal when covering the "weak spot."

For their part, RIM dismissed these references as an unacceptable "attempt to draw RIM into Apple's self-made debacle." The official statement, signed by co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, went on to highlight their company as a "global leader in antenna design" that has been designing "industry-leading" products for over 20 years. The Ontario, Canada-based company called on Apple to "take responsibility" for its design decisions, rather than "trying to draw RIM and others" into the situation.

In similar fashion, Nokia's statement emphasized its role as "the pioneer in internal antennas." The statement also noted that antenna design "has been a core competence at Nokia for decades." Although the statement does not specifically mention Apple, several of the points it makes can be taken as responses to Apple. For example, "As you would expect from a company focused on people, we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict."

The Finland-based company admitted that "antenna performance of a mobile device/phone may be affected with a tight grip," but went on to assure that they allow for this in their designs, citing as examples "thousands of man hours" of study, placement of antennas, and "careful selection of materials."

In June, Nokia's official blog poked fun at the iPhone 4 "death grip" issue. The post included a variety of pictures showing a range of grips, encouraging consumers to feel free to hold their Nokia device any way they like without suffering any signal loss.

Users of the site then posted links to videos showing signal loss on several of Nokia's handsets, as well as instructions from a Nokia manual warning users "to avoid touching the antenna area" and that "contact with antennas affects the communication quality."