The saga of the iPhone product leak: What would you have done?
|April 21, 2010||Posted by Sujeet under Computers and Internet, In the paper today, Mobile, Seriously?!, Sujeetism|
Here’s the part that bothered me – even if our birthday boy Gray Powell had snuck the phone out the Apple test vault to show off during his birthday party, did Apple do the right thing by having its Senior Vice President & General Counsel ask for it, in writing, from a popular blog who claimed to have “the next iPhone”?
I think not. If Apple didn’t make a claim, then it would have been a rumor on the Internet. Even after the dissection indicated the Apple A5 processor underneath, there would be skeptics on the Internet who would have thought it to be a test device in the hands of a flunkie – and that Apple security would have never, ever let even unauthorized air touch the real next iPhone. This rumor would have run its course on the Internet as all viral rumors in social media do. It would have been a huge bloom on Twitter and all other social media that we have, and the pictures would be picked up and redistributed till everyone got tired of waiting for a confirmation from Cupertino.
Now, here’s the tricky part: The act of responding to a rumor, and the manner in which such a response is delivered – is often the double whammy that can work very well, or can rebound really well.
If Apple had responded with something like: “Yes, we lost a test device through unfortunate human error; and while we did not intend to show the world the directions we were considering towards the next iPhone – we welcome your feedback as we always have” – it would have done two good things: humanized Apple as a company made of real people who are capable of human errors; and a company that didn’t preach “our way or the highway” but actually listened to their users and acted upon feedback.
However, Apple chose to have a senior vice president respond with a request to return the device. It doesn’t take much to know that a blog will publish everything that it receives in such cases – because “breaking stories” bring eyeballs, and eyeballs bring advertisers..yada yada yada.
A senior person sending a succinct request can only add fuel to the fire to something that attracts so any fireflies. Instead, if Apple had one of it’s “Device Retrieval staff” or “MobileMe” staff write that letter – the impact may have been a lot less from the speculative perspective. It would have kept people guessing – and that, at the end of the day, is what social media delivers on best when it comes to future product offerings.
It’s like a leaked movie versus a promo clip that almost gives away the entire story. The latter is almost as good as the former, especially the way they’re done nowadays. Yet, if the producer / actors didn’t make a public statement attesting, in any way, to the veracity of the leaked movie – then Joe Surfer would have still paid to see the same movie in the multiplex because it was unclear if the leaked movie was a “final cut” or “one cut before the final cut”.
For what it’s worth – the front-facing camera is a long-overdue “enhancement”, which, like most Apple products – brings the iPhone only up to par with several other smartphones on the market that have had the same feature for quite a while now. The rest of the tweaks sound good on paper as well, but I didn’t spot a huge shift ahead, like, say, multitasking in the new iPhone OS 4.0
What would you have done? Exactly what Apple did? Or something different? Sound off in the comments.