Does Apple Need To Chat More Often? - InformationWeek

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IoT
IoT
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
8/13/2009
10:05 AM
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Does Apple Need To Chat More Often?

There's been a growing chorus of voices complaining that Apple doesn't communicate with developers and users either 1) openly, 2) collaboratively, and/or 3) often enough. A few hints suggest that the company might be listening.

There's been a growing chorus of voices complaining that Apple doesn't communicate with developers and users either 1) openly, 2) collaboratively, and/or 3) often enough. A few hints suggest that the company might be listening.Well, at least two examples, not just hints: the company's marketing guy has replied directly (and privately) to two noted bloggers' complaints about restrictions on the iPhone App Store. This is extraordinary news, as you know Apple doesn't spend money or time on the various "conversations" that its competitors conduct via social media -- it has no Twitter account! -- just as it doesn't participate in conferences, or play the story-leaking game with mainstream media.

"A brand lives or dies by how others speak of it," wrote John Battelle on his blog, in a recent essay entitled "Apple: Is The Worm Turning?" Even though the company's professed desire is to speak through its products and services, the conventional wisdom seems to be that it's not enough any longer. Companies should talk about what others talk about, and then talk about it some more. Doing so would help Apple overcome a perception, voiced by folks Battelle knows, who think "...the company really couldn't care less about you as a person, and frankly, is smarter than you..."

There's a basic question underlying this issue: do actions speak louder than words?

I've always believed that they do, and that "talking" doesn't count as an action in the same way that building a new product, or changing a corporate policy might qualify. The fact that Apple doesn't declare, but rather does things, suggests to me a model for other businesses to emulate, not the other way around. Sure, every company needs to listen to its various stakeholder groups, and businesses have done so ever since the days when focus group notes were kept via clay tablets and chisels.

Apple certainly listens -- you can't come up with so many cool products simply by chance or inspired revelation -- so what is it supposed to do differently now? Prove that it hears comments, and then start commenting on those comments, so others can comment, and then comment again. Those folks who don't feel enough love from Apple need to, well, hear some nice talk.

I don't know about you, but I think brands ultimately live or die based on actions, not words. Apple used to seem content with that equation.

What's changed?

Jonathan Salem Baskin writes the Dim Bulb blog and is the author of Branding Only Works On Cattle.

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