Is Apple’s Rep Rottening?

May 14, 2010
Tom Ryan

By Tom Ryan

With its string of successes, some restrictive policies, and perhaps
a newfound arrogance, Apple’s hip reputation is taking a hit in the techie

Two articles, "Has Apple Lost Its Cool?" in the New
York Times
and "5 Things Apple Must Do to Look Less Evil" in Wired,
brought many of these PR issues to the forefront — some self-inflicted; others
at least calculated.

The laundry list of complaints is large and growing.

For one, Apple is continuously
second-guessed on why it approves some applications for its Apps Store as well
as why it doesn’t approve others. It has also been getting some flack recently
for revising terms to forbid application developers from using software tools
other than Apple’s to build their programs. A big issue is its steadfast refusal
to enable Adobe’s Flash to work on its mobile devices, meaning popular website
such as can’t play on iPods or iPads  Earlier
this month, Apple also stunned techies by suing HTC, the mobile manufacturer
that makes Google’s popular Nexus One and Android phones, for patent

But one highly-publicized brouhaha some are citing as evidence
of Apple’s "arrogance" occurred
after Jason Chen, the editor at tech blog Gizmodo, got his hands on the next
generation iPhone after an Apple employee left it in a bar. Upon Apple’s urging,
police smashed down Mr. Chen’s front door, ransacked his house and carted off
computers and files. The incident became comedy fodder on the April 28 Daily
in which host John Stewart also lamented Apple’s quick reversal from its
counterculture image.

"Remember back in 1984, you had those awesome ads about overthrowing
Big Brother?" crowed Mr. Stewart. "Well, look in the mirror, man!
… It wasn’t supposed to be this way! Microsoft was supposed to
be the evil one. But now you guys are busting down doors in Palo Alto while
Commandant Gates is ridding the world of mosquitoes!"

To some, Apple’s
moves are the reason Google’s Android phones just jumped ahead of the iPhone
to grab a leading share of the smartphone market.

But writing in the New
York Times,
Nick Bilton said some of the current
anti-Apple sentiment can be tied to its success.

"Many consumers — in
opinions expressed on blogs and Web sites — see
Apple as a haughty and bullying company," he wrote. "In part, this
may be because Apple is no longer an underdog in the industry. The company’s
market cap fluctuates between $230 and $240 billion, not far behind its big
brother Microsoft."

He added that while the negative press hasn’t stopped
fanaticism over new iPads and iPhones, "as more options for competing
products appear in the marketplace, if the company doesn’t get its image back
on track, that tide could change."

Discussion questions: To what degree is Apple’s success at risk due to
anti-Apple fervor? To what extent does Apple need to work on improving
its reputation?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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10 Comments on "Is Apple’s Rep Rottening?"

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Bob Phibbs
11 years 2 days ago

Only a PC user would take this seriously. Apple is still head and shoulders above and beyond any of this or their competitors from store design, to product, to fans.

Rick Moss
11 years 2 days ago

Consumers kick back when the arrogance of tech giants results in poor product quality, like browsers and applications that are more exclusive than inclusive of third party features. I see Apple’s rejection of Flash in this classification, but its stringent requirements for app developers probably results in a better (not more limited) experience for users. So consumers–those who bother to care about these mostly geek-centric issues–may have some slight reservations, but considering that the iPad is heading for the top grossing consumer electronics launch of all time, I don’t think we’re talking big image problem here.

David Biernbaum
11 years 2 days ago

Apple does get second-guessed on why it approves some applications for its Apps Store as well as why it doesn’t approve others, and many consumers do think it’s an issue that Apple does not enable Adobe’s Flash to work on its mobile devices. However, Apple remains extremely strong by most consumers for its ease of use and good quality. I view Apple a lot as I do Starbucks! Maybe it’s not for everyone but it maintains a lock hold on what it is, and who buys it!

Gene Detroyer
11 years 2 days ago

Don’t bet against Apple!

Reviews of the iPad were mediocre, yet the rate of sales has exceeded the iPhone.

Maybe Apple knows something about consumers that the techies don’t care about?

Paula Rosenblum
11 years 2 days ago

Counter-culture has been replaced by “cool” and that’s probably fine.

Apple makes some high quality products. No one outside of our little universe really cares about perceived arrogance…and on the subject of arrogance can we say the other OS providers are HUMBLE? Google? Microsoft? Nope.

Apple is still in ascendancy. On some level, I don’t quite understand the allure of the iPad, except that it’s the first time a tablet essentially ignored the paradigm of handwriting (and rightfully so, it turns out)…but I’m really impressed with products like Mac AirBook vs. Netbooks, etc.

Kevin Price
Kevin Price
11 years 2 days ago

The ‘counterculture’ characterization of Apple is common, but erroneously descriptive. They simply march to the beat of their own drummer…and they do an excellent job for many (and a growing number of) consumers in the meantime.

Apple’s highest priority under Jobs is delivering superior products, and they continue to do so. There may well be a few PR bumps along the way, but if they continue doing what they’ve been doing so well, the rest will take care of itself.

Michael Boze
Michael Boze
11 years 2 days ago

Apple has positioned itself by saying it’s not Microsoft. I guess the interpretation to that is that we do not have the same baggage as the market leader. (I think they miss Google’s looming impact). I get that. Apple has developed their own baggage of being too cool for school. I get that. What I think is old school is that their business has a cult following tied to the quirkiness of their founder. That appears to be a fragile handhold in their climb to the top.

What I do not not get is the quality level of their products both hardware and software that seems no better than the evil empire. Anybody buy a new battery for their iPod lately?

I like their innovation. I want to see their quality improve. Reliability and innovation will be the hallmark of the market leader and that’s up for grabs every day in the marketplace.

Ed Dennis
Ed Dennis
11 years 1 day ago
Apple is suffering from market share. For years Apple was the underdog. They had a small share of the computer business and were hailed as heroes by their customers. Then something surprising happened and Apple got REALLY BIG! Now everyone looks at them differently, but they haven’t changed. The old advertisements were meant to accomplish the goal of turning Apple in to David vs HP/Microsoft’s Goliath. They did the job and that mindset continued until the iPod/iPhone made Apple one of the most successful companies on the planet. Now everyone feels entitled to [complain]. Note that everyone is buying Apple’s products and then [complaining] about something, while they can’t wait to buy the next new Apple product. If every American Company had this problem wouldn’t it be wonderful? Can you imagine GM with people lined up outside showrooms? No, you’ll never see this in your lifetime. Now ask yourself why? Why they will line up outside an Apple store to get a new product? The fact is, Apple products work well, though you might not… Read more »
John Crossman
John Crossman
11 years 16 hours ago

I am typing on my iPad right now. I am still a huge Apple fan and I don’t see that changing for or others.

Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson
11 years 1 hour ago

Apple knows their customer better than any other company. The products (entry products) lead to sales of laptops that are 2 to 3 times the cost of their closest competitors. Apple is a marketing powerhouse.


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