Columnist: Apple’s silence on flaws is tarnishing image | iLounge News

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Columnist: Apple’s silence on flaws is tarnishing image

Apple is widely known for its refusal to talk about future products, notes a recent Washington Post article, but its recent silence in the wake of widespread service problems with existing products such as MobileMe and iPhone may be hurting its relationship with its customers. Technology columnist Rob Pegoraro writes, “Poor communication can sink any gadget, but it’s worse on a Web service such as MobileMe. When these things malfunction, they often do so for reasons beyond our control or even comprehension…. So the companies running these services need to speak up, promptly and with sufficient detail to give users cause for optimism. ‘Trust me’ and ‘We’ll do better’ won’t do—not when users paying $99 a year can see the providers of competing, free services offering far more information to their users.” Pegoraro notes that while Apple’s secrecy on future products is a sound business strategy — one preferable to pre-announcing “vaporware” products that either arrive with significant delay or not at all — the company’s “don’t-look-behind-the-curtain tactics don’t work when customers just want to know that their purchase will work as advertised, or when would-be customers want reassurance that they’re not buying into a failed experiment.”

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Comments

1

This apparent corporate non-communication protocol by Apple is now beginning to percolate from beneath the surface.  It probably started before this, but my seething began with Apple’s stealth decision to abruptly terminate their TV out from the iPod Classic.

Posted by Obadiah on August 7, 2008 at 8:22 AM (PDT)

2

I’m strugging with both of Apple’s current shortcomings.

I have a .mac er, uh… .me account, but I’m just using it to archive data and post photos. The “push” putsch turned out to be like VWs ad campaign in the ‘70s for the “Thing”, where they _implied_ that it had all-wheel-drive capatilities—but it only _looked_ like it did.

And my iPhone… Now supports 3rd party apps! But the distribution model leaves my phone locked up and in need of a full Restore when I get an update for an applications. Still does it despite the update to 2.0.1 software. It only does it every few days, though, so I guess that’s a selling point. I’ve used other platforms that support 3rd party applications—Palm, WinCE, Blackberry… and they expose the devices to the evils of user-installed software adn user-managed data, without the oversight of the mother ship. And you know what… no problems.

Apple needs to re-examine its paternalism and upgrade its respect for its customers to 2.0. They engineer great products, and foster a delightful zeitgeist, but when they hit the occasional bad patch, they need to take responsibility rather than simply relying on momentum to carry them through it.

Posted by Manatee on August 7, 2008 at 8:51 AM (PDT)

3

Apparently the end is near for Apple and their horrible, anti-consumer way of doing business. Well, I’m off to the mall now. Hopefully the line in front of the Apple Store of people waiting to buy iPhones won’t block my passage. Again.

Posted by Jordan on August 7, 2008 at 8:54 AM (PDT)

4

Spending hours trying to get an iPhone to work and stop freezing on the white Apple logo of death is already not fun. The forums and Apple Genius Bars are crammed full of people with problems with their iPhones. My iPhone has been restored so many times it is almost a daily routine.

It would help a great deal if Apple would acknowledge the issues and tell us when a fix is coming. As first adopters many of realize there may be issues. But the iPhone 3G is a second generation product running version 2 software!

They need to communicate much better with customers. It is routine for Apple to immediately pull down posts in the Apple support forum without warning when people complain or outline a problem they do not want to acknowledge. Apple is becoming more like Microsoft every day!

Posted by digiprod on August 7, 2008 at 8:55 AM (PDT)

5

The problem is that more Apple customers = more problems. The interesting thing would be the percentage of problems. If you have 1 million people and a 2% ratio of technical problems (whether it be software, hardware or otherwise) you have 20,000 people with an issue. Now bump up to 5 million customers and if you have the same percentage you have 100,000 people with issues. Most people would first point out that their problems increased by five times…not that they gained 4 million customers.

The other thing is that at least Apple works to fix the problem. It may take some time but they work on the problem. Not Microsoft. Instead, Microsoft put millions of dollars in an ad campaign to convince people that Vista isn’t really that bad.

Posted by anypats on August 7, 2008 at 9:46 AM (PDT)

6

Anypats, I totally agree with you on this.  This is clearly the growing pains of the iPhone’s success which affects everything related to that device.  Another analogy I just thought about is Alf..  You know that alien that escaped his planet just before everyone plugged in their hair dryer at the same time and blew up their planet.  Hmm iPhone (hair dryer), Mobile Me (planet).  Yeah you get the picture.  LOL

As for as fixing the problem, agreed there too.  With 2.0 I was rebooting my iPod Touch nearly everyday..  Since 2.01 I hadn’t needed to reboot since.. I think I only had an app crash once since.  They might not be there yet, but they are getting there.  smile

Posted by Phoenixfury on August 7, 2008 at 10:46 AM (PDT)

7

Though they could still work on their communication, did not other members, such as me get the email that said

“We want to apologize to our loyal customers and express our appreciation for their patience by giving all current subscribers an automatic 30-day extension to their MobileMe subscription free of charge. Your extension will be reflected in your account settings within the next few weeks.”

That was a first for apple. After the terrible launch they owned up it was terrible and gave all of us a 30 day extension… This was very quick response to the problem compared to other “compensation” reactions to issues Apple has had in the past. Of course they always could be better, but I’m excited about the extension, especially since the transition problems did not directly affect me as I wasn’t using any of the problem services at that exact time it was in a fub land. Of course that just might mean I’m wasting 99$ a year… Oh well :D

Posted by studogvetmed in Loveland, CO on August 7, 2008 at 1:21 PM (PDT)

8

Anypats - Nothing could be further from the truth. This is not a volume of users issue. There are two SIGNIFICANT SPECIFIC issues currently that affect a much much greater PERCENTAGE of iPhone users than in the past. The first is the bricking of the iPhone since 2.0 with a total restore required each time that many have experienced almost daily, and the other is the well documented issues with MobileMe. Both are completely unacceptable and must be fixed as soon as possible.

2.0.1 did NOT fix the iPhone bricking issues and in fact made it worse for some people. Apple is way too slow to even recognize that this is an issue (Tech support personnel always act like it’s the first time they’ve experienced it each time it comes up, which is probably 4 times an hour for each person). Whether Apple is actively working on this issue is anyone’s guess, since they never release any information about anything. Even when they DO release a maintenance update like 2.01, Apple will never tell you specifically what was fixed other than the generic “bug fixes” comment, so you don’t even know if these issues where SUPPOSED to be fixed or not.

Sorry - but this behavior by Apple has got to change.

Posted by Tones3 on August 7, 2008 at 1:25 PM (PDT)

9

Anypants, the comparison with Microsoft is unfair and untrue.

Whether we like it or not, Microsoft does much better at communicating and being open about the issues that effect their products than Apple.

Really, what kind of company puts out release notes that simply describe the changes a ‘Bug Fixes’? This shows a level of contempt for their customers that I have not seen with MS.

I have developed SW on both Wintel and Apple platforms and know that both have their shortcomings and strengths. However MS is far more open and helpful from both the point of view of a customer and a developer.

I for one have delayed purchasing an iPhone because of the issues and silence around them. I can live with the issues if I know that Apple is working on resolving them, but they say nothing.

This is very very bad PR and a shame for a company that produces some of the best products in their markets.

Posted by OGGIE on August 8, 2008 at 8:45 AM (PDT)

10

The .mac/.iWeb experience has proven to be satisfying for the most part. When iLife ‘08 debuted, however, some glitches I experienced in uploading to my website could have been explained a little better. Clearly the rollout was putting demands on their system, since the problems I experienced subsided a few weeks later. But far be it from Apple’s customer service people to actually come right out and say so!!! Their answer was always to wait a little while and try again, that my (DSL) internet connection was too slow, or that these things just happen sometimes and I need to try a few times for it to work. Never was the option of a cancellation and a refund discussed, even when I brought it up! Glad to see Apple’s feet are being held to the fire for this attitude.

Posted by Laer on August 11, 2008 at 2:29 PM (PDT)

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