Although they make some minor missteps every now and then, history proves Apple really does listen to their customers. They may be slow to act, but they admit when they’re wrong and ultimately make things right.
Always being in the spotlight has been both a blessing and a curse for Apple. Their products make a big splash when they’re unveiled, but with that comes intense scrutiny from consumers and members of the media. Since they’re constantly under a microscope, there is little room for error before a major fuss is raised. Sometimes it’s a whole lot of commotion about nothing and other times it’s completely warranted. It’s during those times that Apple really shines.
Over the years, Apple has shown a great deal of respect and appreciation for their loyal customers. People often remember mistakes the company has made, but rarely do they look at how Apple has worked to rectify those tricky situations. Nobody is perfect, and when innovation and progress are a company’s core values, there are bound to be occasional misjudgments. When the Apple community is legitimately irked about something, the folks in Cupertino listen and do the right thing. A quick look at their recent history supports this argument:
iPhone price cuts
Back in the Fall of 2007, Apple announced a $200 price cut for the original iPhone. Just two months after it went on sale, customers could get the same device for 33% of its initial cost. While this was great for future iPhone buyers, many early adopters were enraged. They felt ripped off and betrayed for “falling for” Apple’s scheme. In response to the backlash, CEO Steve Jobs wrote an open letter to all iPhone customers. He stated that Apple believed the price cut was in everyone’s best interest, but they admittedly should be more appreciative of their most hardcore loyalists. “Our early customers trusted us, and we must live up to that trust with our actions in moments like these,” Jobs wrote.
As a result, they offered a $100 Apple Store credit to everyone who bought an iPhone at the time. Was it a complete refund? No, but that would have been unreasonable to expect. Most companies would have told customers to pound sand because “that’s the breaks.” Instead, Jobs continued, “We want to do the right thing for our valued iPhone customers. We apologize for disappointing some of you, and we are doing our best to live up to your high expectations of Apple.”
Mac notebook gripes
Apple’s line of unibody MacBooks and MacBook Pros were generally well-received when they were introduced last October because of their innovative new features and industrial design. It wasn’t all fine and dandy in the Apple community, though. A small, but vocal segment of users were infuriated by the lack of a FireWire port on the 13″ model and the absence of a matte screen option on all models except the 17-inch. Media professionals who stuck with Macs for years declared they would never buy another computer from Apple until these omissions were fixed. Apple remained quiet, but they were hearing these complaints loud and clear. When it came time to refresh the notebooks a few months later, the new 13″ MacBook Pro sported a FireWire 800 port. And just a couple weeks ago, Apple added a built-to-order option for 15″ MacBook Pros that replaces the standard glossy screen with an anti-glare matte display.
The MobileMe fiasco
This was a big one – and rightly so. Apple’s launch of MobileMe, the updated version of its .Mac service, was a disaster last summer. There were outages for days, if not weeks, which meant customers could not reliably access their email, calendars, contacts, etc. For a paid service that costs $99 a year, this was the ultimate worst case scenario – and Apple was well aware of it. In an email to employees, Steve Jobs again addressed the company’s troubles. He admitted MobileMe was not ready for primetime and that it was a mistake to launch at the same time as the iPhone 3G, iPhone 2.0 software, and App Store. Too much of Apple’s resources were tied up to handle everything at the level of quality they expect from themselves, he said.
“The MobileMe launch clearly demonstrates that we have more to learn about internet services. And learn we will,” Jobs conceded. The company made some internal structural changes and the service problems were resolved over time. Most importantly, Apple sent out letters to customers informing them that 60 days of free service were added to their account subscriptions to make up for the rocky start.
In case there is any confusion, the point of this article is not to shout from the rooftops that Apple is the greatest company in the world. It’s merely meant to point out that, although they make people upset with some of their decisions, they eventually do the right thing. It’s not just that Apple is upfront about many of their shortcomings, it’s also that they take action to prove their appreciation for their customers. They’re often sluggish to do so, but better late than never.