A taste of Apple’s public relations

Apple PR bullying journalists and bloggers is nothing new, but as far as I know this is the first time it’s happened when the cameras are still rolling and someone is smart enough to share it with everyone to see. Valleywag has posted a video of a British journalist interviewing Apple Vice President Philip Schiller when PR abruptly ends the interview because the interviewer mentioned the word “monopoly”. The video really speaks for itself.

First and foremost, iTunes is entirely relevant to the iPhone because it’s the only way to activate the device when you first buy it. And after that, it’s still the only software to manage the content on the device. Suggesting they are not is just shows how little they care about the actual interview and how little faith they have in Apple’s vice president to answer the question himself.

I know it’s lame to always contrast Apple and Microsoft, but Microsoft too has a brigade of public relations people in many different firms who’s jobs are not all that different – to better the public image of the company and its products, but they are nothing like this. In fact, some of the people at Waggener Edstrom (who manage Windows plus much more) are some of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with, especially as I have atypical questions and requests. Of course, there are still times where they have to say no, and that’s okay because we can work out alternatives to compromise.

In a way, I have a lot of respect for Apple bloggers like Apple Insider who does exceptional work under the circumstances.

35 insightful thoughts

  1. I think the reporter asked a completely relevant question, and it is pathetic to get all scared and stop the interview. If his question posed no problem to them, why not answer it?

  2. @Matt, obviously there was no way to answer that question without admitting that they are a Monopoly in the Music industry, and when it comes to their own systems.

  3. They made it look like the vice president couldn’t be trusted to answer a question. As an Apple guy I’m a bit embarrassed by this. Apple is a bit like Steve Jobs, very talented but a despicable person.

  4. Haven’t watched the video, but – istartedsomething, windows-now – I don’t really understand you.

    “So I only blog about Microsoft. I think Microsoft are really interesting and do loads of cool things.”
    – “So do you blog about interesting Apple things?”
    “No, that isn’t my specialty.”
    – “So do you only blog about Microsoft things?”
    “Yes. Oh, except when Apple does something funny and stupid – I like to show them up.”
    – “Err. So basically, you are just pro-Microsoft?”
    “Yes.”
    – “Do you own shares in Microsoft?”

    I’ll let you answer that last one.

  5. I blog about technology in general, but I focus on Microsoft because that’s what I’m knowledgeable on. I could blog about Apple as well, but I leave that to the pro Apple bloggers who do a great job. But in this case, the Apple bloggers did not pick up on this, so I would.

    I don’t own any shares in any company.

  6. I have nothing for or against Apple. (I like many of their products but don’t own any of them, nor have I invested in them.)

    I’m just sick of MS bloggers focusing on all the pro-MS stuff, ignoring most anti-MS stuff (like the technical problems with Vista) and ignoring all the pro-Apply stuff. What’s the point?

  7. @Tomer: Long has also focused on bad things about Vista and Microsoft. For example, bugs in Vista regarding copying files. Other was the debacle of the Ultimate Extras not delivering any almost since Vista was released. To say that Long has not criticized MS before is pure ignorance, or shows that you are a new reader of the blog.

    @Long: I wish this could make Digg’s front page, to see how the fanboys would defend their toy company. By the way, I’m a linux guy, so sue me.

  8. @Tomer; Jumping to Long’s rescue here (Because he’s sleeping I think), let me just tell you you’re WAY off. Yeah, it’s easy to assume he’s just another fanboy who’s blind to realities. But you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Long and I often have MS/Apple discussions where I usually come out as the more anti-Apple person. And I’m on my 6th mac, 3rd iPod and own God knows how many Apple peripherals.

    And I have shares in both companies, unlike Long who has neither.

    And may I just add: How tacky are those Apple PR people? Sheesh! I thought Apple employees would at least have SOME degree of style (Jobs being the exception to the rule), but there two just look horrible. Like they just woke up and threw on the least smelly clothes from the pile in the corner, and didn’t bother to look in a mirror afterwards.

  9. To be fair, asking him if iTunes is acting in a “monopoly way” to get the best out of iPhone is only about as fair as asking if any 3rd party device needs its own software to be useful. The fact is that you’re still free to buy music elsewhere but you do need to use iTunes to sync the device, the same as you need other proprietary software to use other devices. I have never bought a song from iTunes but manage a large library of music ripped from my own CDs to sync to an iPhone and iPod without issue.

    So for providing software for free to manage content and activate the phone (you can hardly get 3rd party apps to activate it!) does create a monopoly and no doubt encourages people to buy music from iTunes. But all the apple guy needed to say was “We’re continuing our model which has been so successful with the iPod line, allowing the iPhone to be used in exactly the same way and meaning the user gets the best possible end-to-end experience”.

    How awkward did he really have to make it, it came across as very pathetic from the Apple team…

  10. Apple Inc is a cult not a company. They realized that the questions the reporter was asking may have consequences and they stepped in. But hey, Microsoft is no different!

  11. Wow.
    I had no idea that this was such a microsoft fanboy site.
    After looking today at the whole site, I don’t know how I missed it.
    I’m an MCSE, and make my living with Microsoft software, but I’m embarrassed for you.

    I hate to say it, but it really hurts your credability.
    (website bookmark deleted)

  12. You mean showing a video (proof) of the truth is considered as being a MS fanatic?

    C’mon, you saw it youself..or were you just afraid to click ‘play’?

  13. @ WOW:
    How could you NOT think istartedsomething was a Microsoft fan-site? I love it because of that…I know when I come here everything will be MS related and usually focus on its benefits, not necessarily its flaws.

    Most blogs run by individuals have a certain degree of “fanboy-ism” surrounding them and that’s what makes them interesting. If I wanted a generic, unbiased story on anything I’d just read Associated Press stuff.

    I bet if Long was a Mac Fanboy though you wouldn’t be talking bad about this site.

  14. i you dont blog alot about , dint see ant blog posts on leopard and its feature even thoe leopard is out now.
    Abd out of the blue i see this video , just makes me think you dont like apple that much.

  15. I could’nt give a toss about apple inc. but from what i see the interviewer is chance his harm, what did he expect? Apple are in the business of making money.

  16. Folks, If an interviewer asked a MS VP if one of their products was monopolistic, PR would halt that question too, and that VP would look like they can’t be trusted to answer as well. What do you expect? It was obviously a leading question. DL iTunes, activate your phone, uninstall. Same crap we all have to do with a lot of software that we don’t want. Both AAPL and MS fanboys need to chill. Proof of the truth? Oohhh Noooo, save us all.
    P.S. Apple is truly a better computing experience, portable music experience, and now phone experience.

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  18. @Ricochet: You’ve just said what Schiller should’ve said, maybe that was what Schiller was going to say if the PR asses would let him.

  19. From the wiki on stealth marketing:

    When targeting consumers known to be consistent Internet users, undercover marketers have taken a significant interest in leveraging Internet chat rooms and forums. In these settings, people tend to perceive everyone as peers, the semi-anonymity reduces the risk of being found out, and one marketer can personally influence a large number of people.

    Here’s some starters for you guys:

    1. If someone makes a valid point, call them a fanboy. It’s often a good idea to undermine credibility of people giving you zingers.
    2. When discussing something that is negative for your company, eg this video, CHANGE THE SUBJECT to something more on-message eg “Vista has file copying problems”. Make something up if you have to.

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