May 10

The price of Apple’s fame

When I went to work on Apple’s advertising long ago, I was surprised how every little thing we did was so overanalyzed by journalists and critics.

When I went to work on Intel’s advertising many years later, I was surprised how few people gave a damn what we did.

Well, that’s the way notoriety works. Apple is exciting, Intel is… Intel. People don’t exactly hang on its every ad.

Apple benefits tremendously from this. But it also pays a price — because everyone’s an expert out there, and the Internet rewards writers for covering controversial topics. Or making up the controversies themselves.

Case in point: tonight I was reading this article in the New York Times by Nick Bilton, titled Has Apple Lost Its Cool? Okay, you sucked me in with that one. But then I get to the reasons why Apple is “under fire,” including this one: Steven P. Jobs has been criticized for his terse responses to customers who ask questions about Apple products.

Geez. Shame on Steve for talking to his customers. Last I checked, people were kind of stunned and amazed that he actually takes the time to answer customer emails. He’s been informative, even compassionate. The real reporters over at the New York Times even wrote an article about it just a few weeks ago. Worse still, when you click the terse response link, it takes you to a blog where the poster and all the commenters are discussing the content of one of Steve’s emails—but not one of them is complaining about it.


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  • NO KIDDING. THANK YOU for posting this.

    Steve Jobs is the ONLY CEO in America who has ever PERSONALLY written me back on ALMOST ALL OF MY EMAILS. And, by the way, he has written back all of my friends who have written him as well. If not himself personally, I have ALWAYS had an Apple representative write me back within 1 business day.

    I dare anybody to name ANY CEO of ANY OTHER COMPANY who takes the time to write back their customers.

    I’ve written Reed Hastings along with the VP of Netflix, I’ve written the CEO of Toyota & Nissan, I’ve written the CEO of many other companies as well… not only have they NOT written back, but I’ve never even heard from ANYBODY within the company!

    Hell, even my own elected representatives won’t respond to my emails except with form letters that have nothing to do with what I wrote them about in the first place.

    Steve Jobs is just an EXCEPTIONAL HUMAN BEING. Humans don’t get better than Steve Jobs. He is just exceptional on all fronts all the way around. And that is why his company is so exceptional. Because Steve’s in charge.

  • rd

    There was story about Apple being a Cult.
    David Carr of NYT tried to come to the rescue of gawker. media will protect their own.
    It is same media thought that Apple was going
    to save their jobs.

    Apple has its loyal followers who click on most Apple stories before it was mac related media that did most of that work but lately it is general media that is gotten way out of hand in this. That is the problem.
    So even the old mac media is just linking to these attack stories thus generating more stories like this.
    Only solution is for most of readers to boycott some of these news outlet. gawker media should be the first , PCWorld would be second.

    Apple is making a lot of money (power) so it attracting a lot posers, even the politician are starting to sniff. It is just a matter of time. I for one liked pre iphone days. At least Apple is not pleasing everybody .

  • Jimi

    I think this guy articulates apple’s success quite nicely:


    So right now Apple need to stop all this petty bickering with tech blog owners, adobe, ellen, HTC, etc… and get back to the “why?”…

  • ken segall

    Wow, thanks for this link. One of the best articulations of success I’ve ever seen. I highly recommend everyone taking a look.

    I’m not sure if I’d draw your conclusion that Apple needs to stop the “bickering” though. At least not all of it. One could argue that once you achieve large-scale success because you have built your business upon the Why, and you’ve become a huge global company, you need to guard against the forces that are out to make the Why less visible, or less believable. Taking Steve Jobs at his word in his open letter about Flash, certainly Apple would have to compromise on “what they believe in” if they were to allow Flash to degrade the performance of their products. I also think a lot of the other distractions are more generated by the bloggers and journalists than they are by Apple. But yes Apple does need to better manage all that stuff. Anyway, thanks for the great link. Much appreciated.

  • ChuckO

    Apple stories drive page views on the web. Negative Apple stories drive even more page views on the web. The haters want to read it and the fanboys read them and overreact to them.

    Apple and it’s fan’s are still conditioned by the wilderness years to be paranoid and over sensitive. Far fewer people would have ever seen the “Ellen” skit if Apple had ignored it.

    A lot of it isn’t Apple’s fault but too much of it is. Especially for such a smart company. I think we’ve seen since the iPad announcement that Apple/Job’s is pretty damn nervous about betting the farm on mobile. That makes sense. Letting the sweat show in public doesn’t.

  • ken segall

    I actually wonder about the Ellen thing. I suspect that someone at Apple simply called the Ellen show after the fact to remind them that they can’t use the real Apple logo in spoof spots like that. (That’s actually a no-no, and it’s surprising that a professional outfit would make such a mistake.) This is all conjecture, so take it with a grain of salt — but I suspect Ellen just went with that story as a follow up: “Apple wasn’t too happy with me for doing that…” And then the press just picks up on it for all the reasons you stated. If you listen to what she says, I think that was her way of apologizing for something she shouldn’t have done — making sure she says how much she loves Apple products, including the iPhone.

    I think Apple is pretty good with most of these things, but in many cases they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t — again, the price of fame.

    I disagree that Apple & Steve are nervous about betting the farm on mobile. I don’t think they’re nervous at all. They’re convinced that this is the future, and equally convinced that they have the best mobile products and the most viable platform for building those products. They’re a confident bunch.

  • ChuckO

    I don’t know mobile is enormous as it goes way beyond just devices. A cloud strategy, getting those damn fools at the media companies to get on the stick and move into the future so your devices are attractive and your cloud services have something to do. Those are enormous tasks and would be even scarier if you were Apple\Jobs and been anointed the most exalted potentate of cool and oh yeah, best CEO ever.