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Florida Newspaper Slams Apple over FM Chip Issue Saying Millions of iPhones had the Chips Deactivated Purposely



On September 28, Patently Apple posted a report titled "The FCC and NAB Call Out to Apple to activate their iPhone FM Chips in the name of Public Safety. An update to that report noted that a scant reply from Apple was sent to a few bloggers that didn't seem professional on such an important issue. Part of the scant reply stated that the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips in them. Yet the new iPhone only went on sale on September 22 so that was useless to think that mattered. Yesterday Apple was again blasted again on this issue in an editorial in the Broward County Florida Sun-Sentinel (The Sentinel).


The Sentinel stated that "As for the matter at hand — letting iPhone users access FM radio on their phones after a disaster wipes out cell service — the statement was silent, except for this: 'iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips in them nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products.'


Holy moly. News alert. Rather than activate the FM chip to help public safety, Apple quietly eliminated it from newer iPhone models. What arrogance. What chutzpah. What total disregard for customers who need information after a disaster wipes out cellphone service, as happened to millions of Americans after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.


For years, the National Association of Broadcasters has called for manufacturers and mobile service providers to enable the FM radio chip in smartphones sold in the U.S., as is required in other countries. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says doing so would immensely improve communications after disasters.


'It is irresponsible for Apple to continue resisting this straightforward, common-sense approach to public safety,' writes former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate — a former head of Florida's emergency management office — in a viewpoint published here today."


The Sentinel further stated that they tried to reach Apple again this week. A spokeswoman sent them the same statement given TechCrunch.


But they had more questions, they replied, including: "Why did Apple stop including FM radio chips in its newer iPhones?" The Apple spokeswoman replied "We aren't going to respond to these questions."


The broadcasters' association, meanwhile, said that a research firm had looked into the guts of an iPhone 7 and found the chip was still there. Spokesman Dennis Wharton stated that "We don't think that they are being straight with the American people."


Besides, there are nearly 100 million iPhones in the marketplace with a deactivated FM chip, the association's research shows. Plus, Apple continues to sell an iPhone 6S with a deactivated chip.


The editorial continued by stating: "Mr. Cook, when Hurricane Irma hit Florida, all but three of 67 counties lost power. Many people who use your product could not hear what was happening for days. Is that really the best you can do?


To us, your decision to strip the new iPhones of their ability to receive life-saving radio broadcasts is heartless and mercenary.


Mr. Cook, you need to get closer to your customers. A lot of us no longer own battery-operated radios and a stock of D-cell batteries. But when a hurricane knocks out the power, we still want to hear what's happening. Many of us hold your product in the palm of our hand. It has — or has had — the FM chip in it. Let us experience it. Let us hear.


Should you refuse to listen, Congress should act."


For more on this, read the full Sun Sentinel report here. For the sake of balance, you should read the TechCrunch report on this issue. Where do you stand? Let us know below.  


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