Apple iPhone alarm woes continue across the globe

HONG KONG/HELSINKI (Reuters) - Some iPhone users across the globe complained of malfunctioning alarms on the first working day of 2011, even after Apple reassured users that its phones’ built-in clocks will work from Monday.

Boonchu Juramongkol, 34, shows his new iPhone 4 at a shop in Bangkok September 24, 2010. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

Bloggers, as well as Facebook and Twitter users, complained they missed flights or were late to arrive at work as the alarm built into Apple’s iPhone failed to go off for a third straight day for some users.

“Come on Apple, I thought the iPhone alarm bug was supposed to ‘correct itself’ by this morning?” tweeted Julie Morgan, a public relations executive in Portland, Oregon, on the social networking site. In an interview, she added, “Luckily, my internal alarm clock went off.”

Similar messages were sent by iPhone users in Britain, the Netherlands and other European countries.

The snafu occurred even as Apple shares touched another all-time high of $330.20, giving the company a market capitalization of more than $300 billion.

Kyle Wiens, who runs the popular Apple repair site iFixit, said the alarm glitch is likely due to a bug in the date code of the iOS software, which powers the iPhone. “It turns out the date code is not very stable,” he said.

“With iOS Apple is completely reinventing the wheel, and a bug in something so basic shows that Apple is having to do a lot of foundational work over again, that they’re really going back and rewriting a lot of stuff from scratch,” Wiens said.

The problem was not limited to the iPhone, with some owners of other Apple products, such as iPod music players, also complaining of a similar problem with their alarms.

“Apple certainly needs to fix it as soon as possible, but I doubt this will impact sales or reflect negatively on Apple itself,” said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment on Monday, but it said on Sunday that it was aware of the problem with nonrecurring alarms and that the iPhone’s alarm would begin functioning normally again on Monday.

Some users said their alarms worked properly on Monday.

“This is not a major issue for Apple, but it is sad that they have the same error on vital dates,” said John Strand, founder and chief of Danish telecoms consultant Strand Consult.

The iPhone alarm system failed to recognize changes in daylight savings time in 2010, causing some users to sleep in an hour longer, according to media reports.

The last time Apple was embroiled in publicity problems was in July last year after the launch of the iPhone 4, when reports about bad reception snowballed and forced the company to call a news conference to address the issue, dubbed “antennagate.”

This had no visible impact on Apple’s sales as the company sold more than 14 million iPhones in the quarter ending last September, more than ever before. It is now the world’s second-largest smartphone manufacturer behind Nokia.

Apple shares were up $7.35 or 2.3 percent at $329.91 on the Nasdaq on Monday afternoon, after Oppenheimer raised its target price to $385 from $345 on optimistic sales estimates for the iPad and iPhone.

Additional reporting by Kenneth Li in New York and Gabriel Madway in San Francisco; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Steve Orlofsky and Matthew Lewis