The buzz from the launch of the Apple iPhone 4 has officially worn off, and has been replaced with a cacophony of bad press about the iPhone 4’s widely-reported antenna problems.

While the effect that this antenna flaw has on everyday usage of the iPhone 4 varies significantly, the story itself has taken on a life of its own and Apple’s PR response has been horrendous. As TechRepublic member Palmetto noted, “Denial and evasion are the quickest way to lose the public.”

Apple broke the cardinal rule of PR crisis situations by blaming the customers themselves instead of admitting the problem. As a result, the antenna issue has descended into a publicity nightmare.

The situation reached new depths this week as Consumer Reports changed its opinion about the iPhone 4 and recommended that customers avoid buying it solely because of the antenna problems. This set off a further firestorm in the blogosphere, with some pundits excoriating the iPhone 4 while others dismissed the issue as badly over-exaggerated by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

To help put this in perspective and get a broader look at the situation, I’ve put together the links below. The first set shows how the information about the iPhone 4 antenna flaw unfolded, while the second set provides a selection of diverse opinions about the issue from a variety of tech thought leaders.

A chronology, in links

June 24: Reports surface that iPhone 4 loses reception when you hold it by the antenna band (Gizmodo)
June 25: Initial response from Steve Jobs and Apple: You’re holding it wrong (Ars Technica)
June 28: iPhone 4 sales top 1.7 million in three days, ‘most successful launch’ in company history (Apple)
June 30: Anandtech tests conclude iPhone 4 antenna issues are real (Anandtech)
July 2: Official message from Apple regarding iPhone 4 antenna issues (Apple)
July 6: AppleCare: The iPhone 4 update won’t solve the antenna problem (Gizmodo)
July 12: Consumer Reports says it can’t recommend the iPhone 4 because of the reception problems (Consumer Reports)
July 12: Wireless engineer says Consumer Reports iPhone 4 study is flawed (Bob Egan)
July 12: Apple deletes Consumer Reports/iPhone 4 threads from its support forums (AppleInsider)
July 13: Blogger notes Consumer Reports still rates iPhone 4 as its top smartphone (All Things Digital)
July 13: PR experts: iPhone 4 hardware recall Is ‘inevitable’ (Leander Kahney)
July 13: Analyst: iPhone 4 recall would cost $1.5 billion (CNET)
July 14: Apple calls iPhone 4 press conference for July 16 (ZDNet)
July 15: Report surfaces that Apple engineer warned Jobs about iPhone 4 antenna issue (Bloomberg)
July 15: US Senator Schumer writes open letter to Apple requesting free iPhone 4 fix for consumers (AppleInsider)
July 16: Apple’s ‘Antennagate’ mea culpa – free case until Sept 30 (ZDNet)

Pundit opinions