Comment: When’s someone going to notice that Apple’s taking the proverbial?
In my opinion, anyone who cheers and applauds at a press conference forfeits the right to call themselves a journalist, but then it’s not as if they can put an awkward question to Steve Jobs anyway – he doesn’t do interviews.
Dodging the bullet
On the rare occasion that Apple executives do face the music, the PR henchmen step in before anything gets tricky. Take, for example, Channel 4’s Benjamin Cohen, who had the gall to ask Apple vice president, Phil Schiller, whether the company was “acting in a monopoly way” by forcing people to use iTunes with iPods at the launch of the iPhone – a reasonable enough question given that the iPhone also demands iTunes synchronisation.
The video brilliantly captures the moment Schiller casts a “help me” glance at the off-camera PR flunkies, before they quickly step in, halting the interview, claiming Cohen was going “way off track”.
“You just want me to give an answer you want,” Schiller prickily retorts when Cohen refuses to back down. Yes, Phil. That’s called accountability – it’s what proper journalists seek.
The sad thing is that such tactics are unnecessary. Products such as the iPhone and iPod are so outstanding they don’t need the iTunes shackles to retain buyers and, despite its pricing anomalies, the iTunes store would still get my custom, even if I wasn’t forced to use it with my iPod. And does Apple really need all those £99 fees to replace the MacBook’s Air battery or could it have sent Jonathan Ive and chums back to the drawing board and added a replaceable battery, even at the expense of a couple more millimetres?
Fantastic product design and an awestruck press might be enough to preserve Apple’s reputation in the short term, but there’s only so many times a company can eat into its reserves of goodwill.