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

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

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"For the largest company on the planet and soon to be the most profitable in the history of the world, this letter shows courage and proves to skeptics that Apple is not too big to admit mistakes, nor forgetful of who made Apple the most valuable Company in the first place," White said.

Others, including Rick, did not see any "courage" in the step, but simply a smart PR move.

"[Apple's] public apologies accomplish what they need to: damage control," asserted Rick. "Whether it's an open letter, an email to a blogger, or a news conference, Cupertino knows how to contain a crisis. Of course, given the company's Teflon touch, what works for Apple will not work for everyone."

Dany Gaspar, director of digital strategy at Levick, a Washington, D.C. firm that helps companies deal with public relations emergencies, also viewed Cook's letter more pragmatically than White.

"An open letter from a company's CEO is typically an effective method of dealing with a PR mistake initially, but the actual letter needs to include specific steps that the company is making to solve the issue and not be general," said Gaspar in an email today.

Gaspar cited Cook's communique for failing to spell out exactly what Apple was doing to make its Maps app up-to-snuff. "[It should have mentioned] changes they are making internally to their mapping development team and [information about] adding the option of download[ing] the Google Maps application," he said, repeating unsolicited advice he gave Apple last week.

The Maps brouhaha -- some have termed it a debacle or disaster -- will not impact sales of Apple's new iPhone 5, White predicted. "Given the insatiable demand for the iPhone 5, we do not expect the map issue to impact this ramp," he said.

Earlier this week, Apple said it had sold more than 5 million iPhone 5 smartphones in the first three days of availability, a 20% increase over the number of iPhone 4S devices sold during a similar stretch in 2011.

Cook's apology not only made national news, but sparked more than its share of comedic responses.

"Until we get this straightened out, I strongly urge you to stay at home," humorist Andy Borowitz had Cook advising iPhone owners today in his New Yorker column. "This only impacts Apple customers who have someplace to go," Cook said in Borowitz's made-up mockery. "From what we can tell, most of our customers just go back and forth to the Apple Store and that's pretty much it."

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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