In the running for 2014’s biggest first world problem – the new iPhone bends if you stick it in your skinny jeans, which makes for a lot of very sad hipsters this week.
Due to the iPhone 6’s ‘dramatically thin and aluminium design’, the phone has been said to begin warping after being in the back pocket for some time. Computer Bild, Germany’s best-selling consumer technology magazine, posted a video demonstrating how easy bending the new smartphone is. This prompted an angry response from Cupertino with Computer Bild now supposedly banned from receiving future Apple products and attending events. I’ll come on to that.
Apple does seem to be the one company that bears the brunt of hyper-criticism when it launches new products, while it still enjoys a fair share of unconditional love from its many fan-boys and girls.
Either way, no other company is subjected to so much scrutiny. Within days the #bendygate was clogging up my Twitter feeds – a typically rational reaction to a handful of phones bending out of the 10 million sold in just three days!
Is Apple losing its touch?
There’s no doubt that Apple’s PR, which was flawlessly overseen by the recently retired Katie Cotton for arguably the company’s most successful 18 years in business, has come in for more criticism this month than it seemed to during her entire Apple career.
Locking U2’s album in users’ iTunes libraries made a lot of new buyers shout that it was an assault on their freedom, as well as an insult to their taste in music.
Is Apple losing its focus on products and trying too hard with a more proactive, and apparently backfiring, PR strategy? Whoever’s decision the U2 giveaway was, it came across as two Dads trying desperately to be cool and embarrassing their children. As Steve Jobs once said: “Details matter. It’s worth waiting to get it right.”
Bent phones, burnt bridges
To level all the criticism at Apple’s PR department is a tad unfair – after all – the press officers didn’t design a phone that people could bend or plant bugs in iOS 8. And whatever crisis communications you put in place – it’s always a case of damage limitation when that happens.
Blacklisting journalists and highly influential publications is not the way to do it. It’s an admission of defeat when you refuse to have your products taken apart by experienced journalists. But Apple should know better as a brand that is more often than not favourable compared against the competition.
As our consumer research shows, 44% of consumer technology buyers read reviews online before making a purchase. As a PR, we’ve all been given a bendy phone or an unappealing product to try and get five star reviews for. And the only way to positively influence a journalist is to provide them with the information they need, be responsive and make sure they aren’t being sent faulty units. We outline all of this in our slideshare on running a great product reviews programme.
Journalists won’t find it hard to get hold of future iPhones to try and break, so to put up the shutters is a very dangerous move.