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July 16, 2010
Defensiveness at Cupertino
So how did Steve Jobs do at damage control in conducting Apple's iPhone 4 press conference, just ending? We'd say he was middling -- defensive and seemingly puzzled about why the event was necessary. When you announce what's supposed to be a world-beater product, it's supposed to be flawless. That's the hazard in being glossy perfect.

What bothered us most about Jobs' explanation was that he didn't acknowledge Consumer Reports, or any technical kinship with them, yet it was CR's inability to vouch for the iPhone's antenna that made the press conference necessary.

"All smart phones have problems," was Jobs' basic theme.

But Apple will be providing free bumper cases or providing full refunds to any iPhone 4 buyers who want them. Jobs apparently doesn't expect many such requests.

We got these insights into Apple's press conference while watching it being "live blogged" by Jon Stokes on the Ars Technica site. Stokes advised that Apple doesn't allow video or sound in their auditorium, on pain of ejection, but there was nothing about the news conference on Apple's own Web site, at least before it occurred. For a company with as much technical prowess as Apple, we wonder why it couldn't have been broadcast, so iPhone users -- Apple's customers -- as well as interested members of the public could have viewed it directly.

Stokes did a good job, but the whole thing came across as sort of cobbled together.

Not a good indication of the current high-tech state of crisis communications, at least from Cupertino.

Addendum, 7/17/10: Been thinking more about this, and it seems (best as I could tell from the blogged notes) Steve's approach was, "Gee, you caught Apple with some explaining to do. We don't deserve that." Not a good cisis communication stance.  

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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