The Occasional Rotten Apple

I have a love-hate relationship with Apple. I’d like to describe myself as a Pragmatic Advocate (as opposed to a Zealot Fanboy prepared to sleep outside for 5 days to get a phone that everyone else will have within days or weeks).

I personally have switched almost entirely to Apple products (Phone, Pad, Air) based on the unbeatable form and function combination that truly is superior to anything else on the market. I don’t do this blindly. I feel like it’s been a logical and natural process. I love the tangible product family, however I really love the intangible service and experience excellence (Blue shirts, Genius, 1-to-1) that truly separates them from their competition.

With a bar set so high, one would think it’s OK to slip up once in a while. Perhaps they’ve earned a Mulligan or two in the marketplace. Only that they actually slip up more often than one would think (the antenna fiasco, battery issues, cracked screen, overheating – the list goes on.) My problem with the company is their detached closedness, secretive opacity and perceived arrogance associated with how they go to market.

This is a company that projects aloofness and a superiority complex, which does not behoove a humble leader. I say that intentionally, because I don’t think they want to be humble. They absolutely believe they know better than their consumers and aren’t influenced by the market.

I don’t even have a problem with that. I just wish the company would — occasionally — admit when they’ve made a mistake.

Here’s the most recent one: My new iPhone 5 arrived on Friday, Sept. 28. Today (as I write this), it’s October 12.

I still don’t have a case for my iPhone.

The Apple store has nothing in stock. In fact, they’ve never received a single case. They also have “no idea” when they’ll receive cases. They are, however, very happy to sell you Applecare for $100 and a $49 replacement fee for when (not if) you drop your caseless phone and crack the screen.

Can you see what’s wrong with this picture?

I don’t think Apple initially intended to embrace the burgeoning accessory sub-industry, which ended up manufacturing bags, cases, headphone, stylus and the list goes on for their suite of i-Products. I’m sure they planned to control the whole shebang, but it’s hard to ignore a tidal wave of creativity and functional add-ons that enhanced the overall offering. Then there are accessories like Square or connected products like Withings Wi-Fi scales which are sold in Apple stores due to their complementary nature.

Where the (un)willing bedfellows alliance breaks down is the window from announcement to distribution of new products.  Personally, I’m tired of hearing Apple employees say, “we have no idea," “they’ve told us nothing” and “I know as much as you.” I’m even more frustrated that they keep their partners as much in the dark as they keep the paying public.

Why couldn’t Apple have figured out a way to brief partners like InCase or Speck on the dimensions of the new iPhone? Why couldn’t it have manufactured temporary cases to be shipped for free during this interim or transition period to allow all case partners to catch up?

I get the intricacies of not giving one partner an unfair advantage over another. I understand the importance of confidentiality versus the dangers of competitive espionage. I just wonder how much of this is down to simple greed, ignorance and/or arrogance.

Surely a company as innovative as Apple could have anticipated and planned accordingly? This is not exactly a Supply Chain Fibonacci Sequence, is it?

If you purchased an iPhone 5 and happened to drop it in this initial window, please let me know how the company acted.

As for me, I’ll continue to carefully handle my phone like it’s a newborn baby, which I guess fits into Apple’s evil plans. Steve Jobs is laughing his ass off right now.

Update: I purchased a case from Best Buy over the weekend.

2 comments about "The Occasional Rotten Apple".
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  1. Jonathan McEwan from MediaPost, October 16, 2012 at 1:38 p.m.

    I bought my iPhone at AT&T the day they went on sale. AT&T had a huge stack of third-party iPhone 5 cases behind the counter that the sales rep showed me as she activated my phone. In the past, Apple had aisles of accessories ready to go on day one. I had no idea they had let that additional revenue stream slip this time around. At $30-$40 a pop, you'd think Apple would have cases on hand. What's wrong with them?

  2. Maarten Albarda from Flock Associates (USA), October 17, 2012 at 9:18 a.m.

    If we learned anything from the book about Steve Jobs is that he believed only in his own greatness (which was pretty great but also very flawed). This mentality surely permeates throughout the organization and into the DNA of the company. So yes: they don't give a damn apart from your own damn!

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