Rex Hammock swears it's his last piece about the press conference, but why should it be? We've been immersed in the Reality Distortion Field, he and I, for our entire adult lives. And neither of us are spring chickens. Now that's it's fluttering in and out, and mostly out -- why not spend some time appreciating it, and trying to find a better way to talk about Apple's products.
The first clue that the iPhone 4 was going to break the mold was when he announced it on stage at the WWDC and the damned thing wouldn't connect to the Internet. They blamed it on the people in the audience.
Then we saw Jobs at the D conference, lecturing a questioner about how they were going to take more control of the apps so that people couldn't look at the browser IDs of people coming to external sites from the Cupertino campus. This had the charm and charisma of Captain Queeg testifying in the Caine Mutiny.
Then one gaffe after another on Friday, each more ridiculous than the previous. He asks if they could get the benefit of the doubt. Oy he's been getting nothing but the benefit of the doubt for his entire career. He says they built all those stores because they love their users. Really. It kind of looks like they sell products there, for money -- you know -- profit.
Then he commits the biggest sin for Apple, he says the iPhone is just like the others. Oooops. That one is going to be hard to walk back. It wasn't in a random email that could be blamed on someone else. The boss said it, in slides for everyone to see. The iPhone is like all the others. It's just a phone.
1. Read Rex's piece.
2. Read JLG's piece.
There are ways to communicate about problems with products -- be direct and honest. And when you design them, assume that every flaw is going to be examined in great detail. Like it or not the users have great communication tools now. That's the actual world you live in.
Instead of saying how you are just as awful as your competitors, praise them to the hilt and say you're aiming to do even better. Everyone loves an aspirer. No one loves a sore winner. Coach Bill Walsh of the 49ers had this down. Johnson & Johnson did a voluntary recall of Tylenol at the first hint of a problem. Avis is Number 2 so they try harder. There are so many examples of people respecting the hell out of their competition, and taking product failure seriously, seeing things from their customers point of view. Not merely talking about them or to them, but hearing them and reflecting back to them what they say, in policies and features.
Rex says: "The Friday fiasco displayed also that when the management of 'the message' doesn't go according to the way they want it to go, they stop being insanely great and just start being insane."
The reporters were caught just as flat-footed as Apple was. To blame the media, as Apple has been doing, isn't realistic. It's despite the media that we find out what's really going on, without very much help. They do carry Apple's water, but lately they've been hearing that things have changed and maybe they're starting to respond.
To think that the Reality Distortion Field was intact last Friday is not to understand the RDF. That was the one of the first press events where the field was not in force.