Customers Ask: Is Apple Going Rotten?
Karma. Doing the "right thing." Thinking different. Apple's enlightened approach to building customer loyalty is now famous, generating big headlines every time CEO Steve Jobs takes on Hollywood or the music industry. Attempts to raise iTunes prices? "Greedy." A fight with NBC over revenues? "Give peace a chance." That's Apple, your socially-conscious corporate friend, who does right by you while standing up to big bullies -- sort of like a character from a Pixar movie.
But over the past two weeks, Apple's fans have been grumbling that the company they knew and loved is transforming into another Microsoft, making short-sighted, anti-consumer decisions and carelessly releasing products with user experience-diminishing problems. In response, an increasingly angry erosion of Apple's brand loyalty is beginning, with complaints mounting all over the Internet, including on the company's own discussion forums. This time, it's not just a cadre of Microsoft fans trying to anonymously stir up trouble for the Cupertino-based company, but rather legitimately upset Apple customers who are threatening boycotts of current and future iPod, iTunes, and Mac offerings.
Put aside Apple's $200 iPhone price drop, which generated a lot of anger but was quickly resolved by the company, and bugs in both new iPod and iTunes software, which the company is certainly working to repair. Instead, consider just four of the issues that are still largely unresolved by Apple, and the extreme anger and disappointment that its customers have been expressing as a result.
Will Apple take the appropriate steps to satisfy its iPod, iPhone, and iTunes Store customers, or will it continue to engage in the same sorts of user-antagonistic practices that eventually earned Microsoft widespread scorn, consumer lawsuits, and international governmental intervention? Like you, we'll be watching to see what happens, and hoping Apple quickly does right by its biggest supporters.
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