Oh dear. Branding great Apple majorly screwed up. If you’ve been under a rock, here’s the deal: they are under fire for releasing the brand new iPhone (which has sold really, really well) with reception issues. It seems to drop calls when the phone is touched by a person’s hand in a certain spot. The problem is they tried to blame the carrier at first; then they said it was a software glitch; and now it comes to light that the issue is that the antenna is on the outside of the phone (rather than encased as it is on other phones) so when people hold it in the wrong spot, it drops the calls.
I read that they were initially asking customers to shell out another $29 bucks for a rubber casing that seemed to fix the issue. What?! You screw up and you make customers pay for the fix? Bad branding, bad! The big bomb came this past week when Consumer Reports refused to recommend the iPhone as they had in the past. That seemed to be the straw that broke the brand back.
The WSJ today talked about some rumors they heard that engineers actually brought the issue to light, but that Steve Jobs wanted the design he wanted and went ahead with it anyway. And in Apple’s (seemingly more and more smug) approach to product rollouts and secrecy, they don’t give carriers the normal “testing” window that is standard in the industry because they were paranoid about keeping the design under wraps. How full of hubris is that?!
I admire Apple so much for their brand efforts and amazing designs and technology over the years. But as I mentioned in a previous post, these behaviors are tarnishing their brand because they are now acting like “the man” who can do whatever they want and doesn’t care about customer ease or usefulness.
If you watch the video here, I love the comment that the woman makes about people forgetting that the iPhone is less a phone and more of a computer. Phones are not necessarily Apple’s core competency and so they very well should have given carriers time to test the phone as they normally do and not worried so much about launch secrecy – it would be better for their brand if they put customer satisfaction ahead of their marketing blitz.
PS: Friday’s Press release notes can be found here. Highlights include not reimbursing customers for having to buy the case, and “When someone or some organization gets really successful, people want to tear it down” which I find particularly amusing since Apple did a lot of that “tearing down” when they were the little guy!