Apple CEO’s apology to Chinese consumers doubles as sales pitch


No one — likely to his relief — ever expected Apple CEO Tim Cook, left, to be the late Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and former CEO.

tim cook Steve jobs Steve Jobs Resigns as CEO of AppleThe only professional apology Jobs probably ever offered was to say he was sorry consumers weren’t buying more Macs, iPhones, iPods and iPads.

Cook’s apology this week to the Chinese is much more than it seems. Apologies are usually a good thing, and this may rank with one of the best, if it works. Cook said he was sorry that Apple’s warranties and consumer service in China were so poor.

But he’s also pitching the Chinese because Apple, like any retailer, needs that nation’s millions of consumers. Cook is also mindful that Apple produces a lot of its products in China, something it has faced difficult media questions about, as well as blogger criticism.

“We are aware … the lack of external communication in this process … lead to the speculation that Apple is arrogant, does not care or does not attach importance to consumer feedback. We express our sincere apologies for any concerns or misunderstandings this gives consumers,” reads a Google translation version of Cook’s letter.

Apple arrogant? Never heard that one before.

This is a good move by Cook. Jobs would have sooner run Windows on his Macs than apologize for anything. He wasn’t that kind of person.

But with Apple’s high-flying stock suffering some turbulence lately, Cook’s move is smart. Head off the crisis before it generates steam that burns the company’s bottom line.

As Apple moved the last 35 years from an innovative startup to the Dow giant it now is, the speed of its innovation slowed. As a more mature company, Apple must consider more carefully than it did in the boom days its markets, sales and good customer relations.

It can no longer thrive by taking on and mocking IBM or Microsoft, as it did in some of its ads and product decisions in the Jobs era.

Sensitivity to customers is a necessary evil, even for Apple.

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at http://www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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