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Tim Cook 'did not have to write' Apple's apology, argues analyst

Necessary and just-plain-smart PR, counters another expert

September 28, 2012 03:16 PM ET

Computerworld - Apple CEO Tim Cook's apology earlier today was unnecessary, a Wall Street analyst said.

"Despite the chorus of negative media coverage around the new Apple maps, Tim Cook did not have to write this letter and bring even more attention to this issue," Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets, said in a note to clients Friday.

"However, we believe he made the right decision to protect and further enhance Apple's brand in the long run," White added.

White's take was at odds with most analysts and public relations experts, who as they applauded the mea culpa, said it was necessary to stem the rising tide of complaints and negative press.

Calling Cook's open letter "refreshing and stunning," Jonathan Rick, a public relations professional who operates a Washington, D.C.-based digital communications consultancy, said the missive met several important goals.

"He acknowledges the problem upfront and doesn't make excuses," said Rick in a email Friday that expanded on previous comments. "He apologizes directly and without qualification. And he takes the unprecedented step to name and promote competitors (not one, not two, but four of them)."

Earlier today, Cook issued a statement -- and Apple promoted it on its website's home page -- that apologized for the mapping misstep.

"We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better," Cook wrote. He promised that Apple's Maps app will improve over time, and in the interim urged customers to try alternatives, including Microsoft's Bing app and Google's Maps, which can be accessed through the iPhone's built-in Safari browser.

John Gruber, who writes the Daring Fireball blog, and is one of Apple's most vocal supporters, called the letter "humble and honest," but nothing more.

White, on the other hand, argued that although the apology wasn't needed, it will benefit Apple in the long run.

Hoover Dam bypass
The Hoover Dam bypass bridge south of the dam appears to have melted in this 3D view of the area in Apple's new Maps app.

"Longer term, we believe this apology will help Apple further its brand of trust with customers, and it is only a matter of time before the company delivers a great map experience," White wrote.

Rick agreed, but put it very differently.

"Apple customers are savvy and forgiving," Rick said. "They realize that mapping the world is long-term drudgery, and as we saw with Siri and Lightning, neither half-baked products nor gouging will dampen their fervor."

By "gouging," Rick was referring to complaints that Apple has not included an adapter for the new "Lightning" connector on the iPhone 5 with each new smartphone. Instead, Apple will charge customers $19 to $39 for various Lightning adapters and cables.

White also went further than most in characterizing Apple's move.



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