Apple chief executive Steve Jobs may have expected the “antennagate” controversy over the iPhone 4’s reception problems to die down after Friday’s event where he offered free rubber cases for customers who suffered from dropped calls. But by saying that all smartphones have antenna problems, Jobs stirred the pot.

Nokia fought back yesterday, saying that it does not put form over function in its designs and it prioritizes antenna performance over physical design if they are in conflict. Now, Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry phones, has taken great umbrage at Jobs’ reference to the antenna problems of BlackBerry phones.

“Apple’s attempt to draw RIM into Apple’s self-made debacle is unacceptable,” said RIM spokesmen Mike Lazaridis and Jime Balsillie, in a statement. “Apple’s claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public’s understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple’s difficult situation. RIM is a global leader in antenna design and has been successfully designing industry-leading wireless data products with efficient and effective radio performance for over 20 years. During that time, RIM has avoided designs like the one Apple used in the iPhone 4 and instead has used innovative designs which reduce the risk for dropped calls, especially in areas of lower coverage. One thing is for certain, RIM’s customers don’t need to use a case for their BlackBerry smartphone to maintain proper connectivity. Apple clearly made certain design decisions and it should take responsibility for these decisions rather than trying to draw RIM and others into a situation that relates specifically to Apple.”

And Motorola added, “It is disingenuous to suggest that all phones perform equally. In our own testing we have found that Droid X performs much better than iPhone 4 when held by consumers.” HTC said that 0.16 percent of its Droid Eris customers have complained about reception problems, much smaller than Apple’s percentage.

Apple, meanwhile, took the offensive even further by creating a web page with videos of other smartphones dropping reception or calls when gripped in the wrong way. While many expected Jobs to simply apologize for the iPhone 4’s reception problem — dropping calls when it is held the wrong way — Jobs demonstrated other phones failing in the same way and declared, “all smartphones have weaknesses.”

Jobs’ videos
showed that phones with antenna problems include the Samsung Omnia II, the BlackBerry Bold 9700, and the HTC Droid Eris.

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