iOS 8 update fail and Bendgate: Heads may roll at Apple

tim cook

Apple has a reputation to keep

Tim Cook must be furious.

You can imagine the tension among those who've been called into his office in the last 24-hours. Apple's leader is no less demanding and passionate than his predecessor -- he's just more likely to reward those who work as hard as he does.

And when he gives you a tough time, he gives you a very tough time.

Double-whammy

Imagine his fury in the last 24 hours. The introduction of the new iPhone, Apple Pay and the Apple Watch should be the moment his dominion in Cupertino turned years of criticism around. Instead, somehow his staff have delivered not one, but two PR disasters inside a day:

Can you imagine how he feels as his company is forced to put its name to this apology?

"We apologize for the great inconvenience experienced by users, and are working around the clock to prepare iOS 8.0.2 with a fix for the issue, and will release it as soon as it is ready in the next few days."

Why are you still here?

There's a story from when Cook began work at Apple. A meeting in 1998 when a problem in manufacturing in China was identified and he suggested someone should travel to China to "drive" the necessary production line changes. Half an hour later he looked at one of his staff and asked: "Why are you still here?" Fortunately, that lieutenant got the message and was on the next plane to China.

That's the kind of boss he is.

Remember Maps? When he sacked Scott Forstall for over-promising on an important product that gave competitors a stick to beat his company with?

Cook loves Apple. Heck, most everyone at Apple loves Apple -- but somehow all that love still translated into a pair of PR problems (and that's even before you consider the removal of the Camera Roll feature within iOS 8 which has a lot of iPhone photographers fuming).

I suspect there's a streak of ice emanating around the company right now as Cook attempts to get things on track again.

He has to.

More is expected

There's no way Apple's customers (beyond the most hardcore loyalists) will accept that the iPhone 6 shouldn't be carried in a trouser pocket. Where else do you carry a phone? In a little posing pouch suspended around your neck? In a surgically-added pocket just below your chest?

You see, no one cares if other metal phones bend. This is an iPhone. It's the consumer electronic equivalent of a superhero, and much more is expected from the device.

Much more is expected from Apple. That's why the iOS 8 update is also such a disaster. It's not as if Apple is Microsoft or Google and people are used to an update breaking the product they've just paid for. That's not Apple's way.

Cook will be asking why these problems emerged, who should have been aware of these problems, and he's going to be looking pretty closely to ensure these oversights don't reflect any political jostling for position among his staff.

Internal politics?

There's no way Apple's competence is going to be tarnished for the selfish machinations of ambitious (or disloyal) Apple staff who allowed a problem to remain unidentified simply to serve their own agenda.

It's been a painful few hours. But let's not be too unreasonable -- we all know that sometimes things go wrong. The test of a great enterprise isn't solely in ensuring there are no mishaps -- a company sets its reputation by the way it deals with problems when they happen. It's up to Apple's top brass now to execute damage control.

Heads are likely to roll.

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