I’m pretty Apple-neutral. I adore my iPod (though I specifically bought a 5th generation because I like it better), I use Windows, I own an Android phone but I absolutely appreciate the genius of Apple design.
Not in building or designing the phone, mind you. I get it – lots of phones have this issue, it’s only affecting a small percentage of people, the media has clearly blown it out of proportion because it’s a juicy story.
But Apple finally got bit in the ass by their “we make the news” policy. And they’re crying about it.
In the press conference this morning, Steve Jobs admitted that they knew about the iPhone4 reception issue before releasing the phone. Again, I understand – all products have flaws, and I don’t really think there is anything wrong about not highlighting them. People can make their own decision based on reviews.
My #1 rule for fostering a loyal community: be honest with them as much as you possibly can.
People value honesty incredibly highly – I’ve had to deliver devastating news to customers before, and taking the time to tell them the whole truth of the issue often results in a surprising response: gratefulness. Yes, people often respond to bad news positively if you’re actually honest. There’s so much dishonesty in the world (especially the corporate world) that people are just relieved to know what’s going on. Ever had a mysterious ailment? If you’re anything like me, what’s worse than being sick or hurt is not knowing what it is or how bad it is. We, as humans, want the truth.
Apple could have saved money and face by being honest, at least once the initial reports came out.
Had they noticed the buzz in the first week they could have simply announced (hell, via Twitter if they had an account): “Yes, we’re aware of this. Yes, it’s a problem. Most phones have it, it should only affect a small percentage of calls and people.” You know what? Most people probably would have been fine with that. And if they weren’t? Offer free bumper cases to people who came in and requested them. It’d still save a lot more money than shipping them out to people (many of whom probably haven’t experienced this issue, but will ask for a case because of all the hoopla).
In short: even Apple’s might can be damaged by dishonesty. I’m impressed that Apple is actually admitting the truth and listening for once. I hope they keep it up (and their stockholders should too).
Photo courtesy of mkuma443.