April 02, 2013
Yesterday, Tim Cook did something Steve Jobs hardly ever did, he apologised.
Steve Jobs was a master at dealing with the press, he knew exactly what to do to keep them on their toes, that was to keep them guessing. Since the unveiling of the iPod and iMac, the mood in the mainstream press has been relatively positive for Apple, leaving little reason to change this tactic that has worked for many years.
But since Apple’s success with the iPhone and iPad, the mainstream press has become increasingly hostile to Apple. They’ve discovered that while any article about Apple gets a comparatively high number of hits, an article with a negative slant has a much higher chance of becoming viral.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that this is the result of being on top, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Apple to maintain their public image while being silent. The press will always speculate on the glass half empty point of view even if the facts point to a different conclusion. Without the other side to the discussion, Apple is exposed to knee-jerk opinions, such as people who saw or read about Mike Daisey’s play, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, even though it was mostly fabricated.
As an aside, the retraction by This American Life of their Mike Daisey episode is possibly one of the greatest This Amercian Life episodes I’ve heard.
Apple now has to fight for it’s own position, and part of that is responding publicly to criticism no matter if it warrants a response. The public perception of Apple is becoming increasingly hostile, while their competitors now get the praise that Apple used to get. Tim Cook has to stem the turning tide before this starts to affect their bottom line, and I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from him in the coming months.
If you’ve read this far, you should probably follow me on Twitter: @weiran.
Written by Weiran Zhang who lives and works in Nottingham. You should follow him on Twitter.