Apple’s Defensive Tactics Under Fire
Maybe Apple is experimenting with trying to keep online buzz alive around a product even if it is turning negative despite it being one of the most successful product launches in the esteemed company’s history. It appears that rather than quieting the critics following last Friday’s “Antennagate” show press conference, Steve Jobs’ comments that dragged every smartphone producer into the ‘blocked signal’ fray are creating quite a stir.
cnet gives us a summary in two separate articles of the responses coming from smartphone manufacturers in the four corners. The first let’s us know how Blackberry manufacturer RIM feels
RIM co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie made their feelings rather clear.
Their statement began: “Apple’s attempt to draw RIM into Apple’s self-made debacle is unacceptable. Apple’s claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public’s understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple’s difficult situation. RIM is a global leader in antenna design and has been successfully designing industry-leading wireless data products with efficient and effective radio performance for over 20 years.”
Another cnet article shows gives a glimpse into how HTC and Samsung feel about everything.
Hui-Meng Cheng, chief financial officer at HTC, told The Wall Street Journal on Monday that “the reception problems are certainly not common among smartphones,” and a representative from Samsung said that it “hasn’t received significant customer feedback on any signal reduction issue for the Omnia 2,” one of the phones that Apple singled out as suffering from similar reception issues if held in a way that blocks the antenna.
So for the students of online reputation monitoring and management (and offline as well) the question is “Should pointing the finger at others who allegedly have the same problem as you do be used as a way to handle a reputation situation?”
Steve Jobs effectively dragged every other cell phone manufacturer into this and tried to make the issue at hand (pun completely intended) something that is endemic to the industry and not just Apple. It can come off in two ways:
1. An ingenius attempt to spin everything to say that that “Sure the technology is imperfect across the board so don’t get mad at Apple because we are all in the same boat. Just look past this and remember that Apple products are the best money can buy”
2. This is truly annoying and unnecessary because our product is great and doesn’t deserve this treatment so we’ll just push off our problem on the industry as a whole and drag everyone down in the process.
Personally, I don’t have any skin in the game so I can see both sides happening but I will say that neither is very desirable from an ORM perspective. People don’t like whining and finger pointing in general. Sure it happens every day and everyone does it in their lives but when an iconic public figure like Steve Jobs does it the effect is that all the fingers get pointed at him and not for good reasons.
All in all this whole mess should have been avoided by official statements earlier in the process but Apple doesn’t seem to operate under the normal rules of engagement. Honestly, it makes sense that they might feel above it all because they generally do a better job than most companies in the marketplace.
Of course, pride goeth before the fall and Apple is just as know for its hubris as it is for its products.
So where do you fall in all of this? Did pointing the finger at the rest of the industry make this whole thing better or just exacerbate an already tricky situation? Maybe an informal poll here from the Pilgrims can put to rest whether Antennagate is a thing of the past or the start of something bigger.
So which is it?