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Apple 'dropped the ball' on iPhone location tracking issue, says expert

Gregg Keizer, Computerworld | April 28, 2011
Apple's explanation about how and why iPhones track users' locations was too late, too little, a crisis communications expert said today.

Robinson wasn't buying the delay.

"Here's Steve Jobs ... there isn't a reporter in America that won't talk to you," Robinson said. "I can guarantee that if Jobs called any reporter, they'd take the call. It's not like they were without means of getting the message out. And if you're not filling that news vacuum, Congress is going to do it for you. You need to seize control of the narrative, or you're constantly in a defensive cycle."

Robinson also criticized some of the language in Apple's statement, singling out the sentence, "Users are confused, partly because the creators of this new technology (including Apple) have not provided enough education about these issues to date."

"That speaks to an arrogance," Robinson said. "It's always a good idea to educate, but to suggest that people didn't get it right when there could have been more disclosure on Apple's part is not a way to win the hearts and minds of consumers."

Although he gave Apple a passing grade -- "if we're grading this pass/fail," Robinson said -- he had advice for the company.

"This is in its nascent stage, it will be going on for a long, long time," said Robinson. "But Apple can turn this adversity into opportunity. They've done that before."

If Robinson were helping Apple deal with the tracking brouhaha, he would advise the company to grab control of the discussion by becoming a leader in consumer privacy and advocating privacy standards.

"Look for a way to demonstrate your leadership," he urged Apple. "Say, 'As a leader, we recommend that consumers want X, Y and Z.' Once people are looking forward, not backward, it will remind people how smart they are in connecting to consumers."

 

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