Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I’ve Seen An Elephant Fly

Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, Apple proves that they are more clueless than even I imagined. In fact, I thought that since they had handled the crisis regarding their new product - the iPhone 4 - so poorly that they had already reached the depths of crisis management.

I admit it. I was wrong.

They have shown that they can go further, faster than anyone could have imagined. Only in the wrong direction. I’m impressed but not in a good way. Apple made three mistakes, real obvious ones at that. First, they used the term “Antennagate” during their press conference  and then said they wouldn’t say it anymore. Too late! Not only is it out there now but it will be linked with Apple forever. It sounds petulant to say “Antennagate” then declare it off limits. Does Steve Jobs really think he has the ability to order the world not to use the term anymore? Instead, he validated a concise label, something easy to remember. If Apple wanted the word to go away, they should not have acknowledged it. It would have died out on it’s own. Now it will forever be linked to Apple.

Second, they offered their customers a sop. Instead of vowing to fix every iPhone with the problem, they are giving away a free case. Wow! How generous. The case will actually help reception but it’s clearly a cheap gesture not a grand one. That has not been lost on Apple fans. The company clearly isn’t showing them the love.

Finally, they went on to say this is a problem that all of their competitors have too. The reaction from the other smartphone manufacturers is what you’d expect. They laughed at Apple for trying to make this their issue. Besides, customers don’t buy  the “they suck too” defense from a company that talks about the superiority of its products. When your kids come home from school with a bad grade and say “lots of other kids did bad too”, do you take that? No! Instead they get the well known parental refrain of “I don’t care what other kids did. I only care what you did.” Pointing out flaws in others, even if it’s true, does not relieve you of your responsibility. Apple customers know this. It’s time to drop the excuses and fix their relationship with their customers.

So, it only gets better. Apple keeps setting new lows for crisis management. Someone needs to get over there and pull them out of this infinite loop.

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