One Bad Apple

I remember watching Nixon’s “I am not a crook” speech on TV. At the time, my mother told me that he should just admit what he did and everyone would soon forget about it. “It’s when you deny, deny, deny,” she said. “That’s when you really get in trouble.” Nixon, Clinton…Toyota, Apple. Will they ever learn?

Apparently not. Though much has been written about the iPhone 4’s antennae problem, Apple continues to dance around the issue with their public. I suppose the thought is that eventually everyone will be distracted by something shiny. But in today’s information exchange overload, their issue is not likely to just go away. And every time they deny or sidestep, they actually sink a bit deeper in their own public relations quicksand.

Is there really a problem with the iPhone 4? I have no idea. I have a crappy dumbphone. So I have no dog in the fight. But if they asked me, here’s what I’d tell them to say:

Dear iPhone 4 Owners, Apple brand mavens and everyone else:

In the face of mounting evidence that some users are experiencing a legitimate hardware problem with their iPhone 4 devices, we owe all of you a huge apology. We handled the initial complaints poorly. And we eventually found ourselves in the impossible position of defending something that was indefensible. Now, even the most diehard of Apple fans is questioning us and our commitment to our products, our customers and our brand. I am sorry to say that, lately, this has been a legitimate concern. I am happy to say, however, that this stops right here, right now.

At Apple, we are privileged to have some of the finest minds in technology today as the backbone of our company. And you have my word that these people have been told to devote all their time and resources into developing a real fix for this issue. No tape. No software upgrade. No grip adjustment. We will just fix it. And when we do, we will notify all users. At that point, you can either mail the phone back to us or come into your local Apple Store and we will replace your iPhone 4 device. No receipts. No questions. If you love your phone and aren’t experiencing any problems, you’re free to keep it. It’s that simple. And it’s overdue.

Lately, I have not been proud of how Apple has acted towards its customers and the media. And nothing I say now can change what is done. But you have my word that everything changes now. And we hope to win your trust and admiration again. Because without you, Apple is just another struggling technology company. But with you, the revolution continues.

Steve Jobs


Truth. It’s the PR silver bullet.



Filed under Apple, Branding, Public Relations

4 responses to “One Bad Apple

  1. Pingback: Scholars and Rogues » The letter that Steve Jobs ought to write to Apple customers

  2. Porlock Junior

    Hmm, and now that Jobs has delivered his version, how does it compare? From the news story I saw, it’s somewhere between this statement and the Pope’s non-apology to the Irish.

    But not, I think, halfway between. Not when the Pope has just now explained that sexual abuse of children is just as bad as ordaining women. (Well, ok, *almost* as bad.) To be half as bad as the Pope would require a Jobs-Gates joint venture in dickheadedness.

    Still, it’s a pity Jobs couldn’t shed the defensiveness and the not-quite-Papal “we’re being mistreated” line.

    • I hadn’t thought about the Pope/apology angle. I guess the difference for me is that we’re talking about phones, not lives. My idea, as pie-in-the-sky as it was, would pretty much fix things. Irreparable harm has been done in the other case.

      I figured Apple/Jobs would come down somewhere in the middle. That’s always the way. And they’ll get away with it. Now AT&T gets to worry about the negative focus coming back on them again. They were the biggest winner during this mess. Everyone stopped talking about their issues for a few minutes.

      Thanks very much for your comments.

  3. Pingback: The letter that Steve Jobs ought to write to Apple customers | Scholars and Rogues

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