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Songwriter protesting coverage of iPhone 4 antenna problems gets Apple's attention

July 16, 2010 |  9:13 pm


Internet minstrel Jonathan Mann got two minutes of fame Friday when Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs kicked off a news conference at the company’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters to quell controversy over the iPhone 4’s antenna problems that can cause dropped calls by playing a song that Mann wrote.

"The IPhone Antenna Song" protests the media hoopla surrounding the phone's alleged reception problems.

"If you don’t want an iPhone 4, don’t buy it," Mann sang. "If you bought one and you don’t like it, bring it back!"

The 28-year-old music and video freelancer from Berkeley, who has sung ditties for Groupon and other start-ups, has been writing, singing and publishing a song every day on his website since Jan. 1, 2009. (IPhone Antenna was No. 561). He's an unabashed Apple fanboy who shoots and edits video on his iPhone 4 and whose personal hero is Jobs.

"The idea of Steve Jobs doing a little jig to my song, it doesn’t get any more amazing than that for me," Mann said in an interview in his rumpled Berkeley apartment.

Jobs acknowledged at the news conference that there were issues with the antenna, which wraps around the device. But he insisted that the issues are common to all smart phones and accused the media of sensationalizing the issue, saying customers are thrilled with the phone.

“This has been blown so out of proportion that it is incredible,” Jobs said.

That sentiment was captured in the two-minute song that Mann penned. “And you can call me a fanboy. I’ve been called worse things. But Gizmodo is just ridiculous. Pulling their anti-Apple strings.”

Mann said the lyrics were a sincere expression of his own frustrations. “It’s just totally ridiculous to me,” he said. “I have yet to drop a call on this phone. It’s an awesome, amazing piece of hardware.”

Mann has gone viral before. A tune he wrote about Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman landed him on MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show."

That was an unexpected twist of fate, he said. But his iPhone anthem was more calculated, Mann acknowledged.

“I knew the press conference was happening. I had my own opinions. The media was blowing this thing way out of proportion, so I wrote the song and sent it around to a few blogs,” Mann said.

The marketing effort paid off. Apple contacted him early Friday morning to ask permission to play the song at the news conference.

“I created something at a moment that resonated with people in a way that was really positive and meaningful. That’s what’s so cool about it for me,”  he said.

Mann hasn’t received any compensation from Apple. But he would really like an iPad.

-- Jessica Guynn

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