Cook’s Apple Continues to Calculate
Apple on Friday once again strayed into new territory. Since taking the helm as CEO of Apple there have been changes, Tim Cook is putting his mark on the company and leading the way he feels he should. Last week was no different as we saw the first real admission from Apple that its iOS 6 bundled Maps have failed to live up to the expectations consumers expect from Apple products.
The furore has been deafening over the quality of Apple’s maps, excuses have been made for both sides of the argument and pundits from every corner have jumped on board to kick Apple while they’re down. The pressure clearly became too much and Apple has relented, posting an open letter to the Apple.com homepage with an apology from Cook.
The letter, no doubt covered by everybody by this point, is notable in a number of ways. First is the clear acceptance of Apple making the wrong judgement call on maps, falling short of Apple’s commitment to “world-class” products. The second is outlining some of Apple’s reasoning for why they pushed so strongly for a new maps release, explaining that “[t]he more our customers use our Maps the better it will get”. Then the third and most shocking of all is a recommendation to use other products including Apps from the App Store and a dedicated page on how to add Google and Nokia web maps to an iOS 6 home screen.
Apple doesn’t apologise often, some of the more recent and memorable apologies—if you can call them that—were of course “antennagate” and the MobileMe debacle. Both ended in Apple giving something back to the consumer, a position Apple has clearly decided not to take with this particular apology.
Cook’s apology tells us that the CEO has no intention of leading in the spirit of Steve Jobs and for this we should celebrate. Whilst it may have been Jobs’ style to hold Apple to the highest standard even when it was clearly in the wrong Cook feels that humble, honest and progressive apologies and solutions are what makes one of the largest company’s in the world able to continue growing.
However one great trait that Jobs instilled in Apple stills remains and that is calculated responses. From the point of Apple releasing the iPhone 4 on June 24 and the slowly developed “antennagate” coverage it was 22 days until Apple gave an official response in the form of an invite only press event (not to mention the nameless open letter to iPhone 4 owners denying any hardware issue). In the case of Apple’s map troubles the response was quicker but still much of the media was met with days upon days of stone cold silence from Apple.
As any PR practitioner would testify it pays to think about and calculate a response to a crises, many companies large and small fail on this point. Apple is the king of calculated even if it is to the annoyance of the media and consumers.