'Batterygate': Apple's deathly silence, more transparency needed?

'Batterygate': Apple's deathly silence, more transparency needed?

Summary: Apple finally made contact with the outside world over the battery bug in iOS 5. Issues over the company's silence and transparency have been called into question.


Last night, Apple broke radio silence and admitted there was a battery-related fault with iOS 5, the company's latest mobile operating system.

But in comparison, while 'Antennagate' may have been a storm in a teacup, 'Batterygate' is only reminiscent of, rather than directly comparable to. Many Apple fans, consumers and end-users remain frustrated, and patience is beginning to wain as the company maintained its wall of silence.

(Modified from original — Source: Apple)

To repeat what I said earlier this week, how Apple and Steve Jobs personally handled 'Antennagate' showed more about the elusive company than any other speech, action or product release in recent times. It publicly outed its disaster recovery plan, and the company showed its weaknesses.

Jobs took to the stage to greet press within a fortnight of the iPhone 4 release, and only days after 'Antennagate' perpetuated into near-widespread hysteria. The media were, on the most part, guilty of this. An explanation was given, after a short wall of silence from the company, but an overwhelming majority felt that the solution it had given its customers was a satisfactory one.

But by allowing the company to bleed, so to speak, Apple healed stronger.

Apple, once again, reaffirmed its "love for its customers". No other company can rightfully command this respect from its smartphone or tablet using flock.

But three weeks since the iPhone 4S launch, and the general availability of iOS 5, the mysterious battery bug has left customers questioning where their mothership has gone. After weeks of silent denial, it appeared to make a strategically timed statement last night.

As a swan drifts and glides along the surface of the river, its legs are frantically thrashing under the water. Apple may have ignored its customers, but it has not ignored their cries.

iOS 5 users continue to flood the Apple support communities with cries for help, showing disenchantment and frustration:

"I just got a new iPhone 4S after having my old 3GS for over 2 years.  I truly believed that the battery life was going to make a real difference with the new phone.  Absolutely not!  It is the same or a little worse than the 2 year old phone.  I am really annoyed with the new phone."

And others:

"Why don't they offer the option to downgrade to ios4? APPLE GIVE ME MY PHONE BACK!!!!!"

Dissecting the forums and views from users, some are reaching out directly to Apple whilst others offer peer-support.

Within a week of 'Antennagate' becoming talk of the town, Apple had to contend with the "accusations", while the company "wanted to find out the truth", as Jobs said in an interview with AllThingsD earlier this year.

It wasn't ignoring the issue. The company was working behind the scenes to get things right -- at least, get things right based on what Apple's ethos and beliefs would allow it to. Instead of firing out a press release every other day to say, "We're still working on this", and cluttering the newswires with prolonged words that over time simply grate on the customer, it gathered its collective thoughts and only commented when it felt it was right to.

But because of Apple's corporate secrecy, one has to wonder whether its trademark silence is damaging its reputation, by focusing on the 'wrong' self-image issue.

Either, Apple can uncharacteristically speak out and admit that something was wrong -- as was seen in 'Antennagate', or the company can remain silent, issue a short statement to one news publication as it did last night, and hope that it will suffice.

In the case of Apple's location-tracking issue, the company rolled out a fix within two weeks, and while remained relatively tight-lipped about the alleged 'bug', it highlighted it and moved on.

Historically, Apple has been slightly slower to the party than on previous occasions. But nevertheless, it has said what it needs to in a short, sharp burst of public relations -- a rare move to give an unscheduled media response -- to appease the masses at least on a short-term basis.

Ultimately, it boils down to: should Apple have acknowledged the battery bug a week ago? Frankly, I don't think it matters. Timing may be everything, and waiting for a diagnosis is often harder than the treatment itself. But the company has said what it needs to now, and retrospectively 'Batterygate' will be nothing short of a blip on Apple's timeline.

Suffice to say, transparency would have been nice. But Apple, unlike others, remains 'royal' in its stance: dignified, to the point, and moves on from controversy swiftly and quietly.


Topic: Apple

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  • RE: 'Batterygate': Apple's deathly silence, more transparency needed?

    If you have followed Apple for any amount of time you'd realise they don't usually say anything until they are certain they know what the problem is. It saves embarrassing backflips at a later date.
    A Grain of Salt
    • RE: 'Batterygate': Apple's deathly silence, more transparency needed?

      @A Grain of Salt Or, to avoid admitting there is a problem until the bad press gets too much for them! Antennagate, iMac Screens (they never did acknowledge that one).
      • How did Gizmodo's created "Antennagate" hurt Apple?

        @Peter Perry

        Oh right, it had 0 impact except for the haters that hate Apple to start with. So they lost the sales of people that would never buy an Apple product. No big loss.
      • RE: 'Batterygate': Apple's deathly silence, more transparency needed?

        @Bruiser It was buried, allowing Apple to keep selling their defective products with impunity because customers were not allowed to know the facts. This is why Apple works so hard to maintain its image and control the media. It's not about superior products or them not having serious defects, it's about lying to people until they're committed to multi-year contracts and then laughing because you've already gouged them. If any other company (Ford, for example), operated this way, there would be class action lawsuits out the door and around the corner. It's about keeping people blind and ignorant because if they had the resources to compare they'd see that Apple isn't all it's cracked up to be. The big loss is to truth in advertising, to freedom of choice, to informed decisions, to innovation, and to actual quality rather than slick commercials.
      • RE: 'Batterygate': Apple's deathly silence, more transparency needed?

        Better to get as many sales as possible today, worry about the technical issues tommorow.
        zdnet lover
      • RE: 'Batterygate': Apple's deathly silence, more transparency needed?

        @PatrickBay.ca Thanks for the morning laugh, keep the idiocy coming.
    • RE: 'Batterygate': Apple's deathly silence, more transparency needed?

      @A Grain of Salt

      How is saying "We are looking into the issue and will release a statement after we are certain what is happening" going to create embarrassing backflips later?
      Michael Kelly
      • It is obvious that the company is looking into the issue, so there is no ..

        @Michael Kelly: ... purpose in such statement. Apple was never the company which would run with pointless, vaporware PR.

        So they took their time to establish that the problem is real and that it is software-related, not hardware-related. Once they found this out, they made statement that there will be solution in few weeks.
      • Right. Because acknowledging a problem exists

        keeps people needing a phone from buying an iPhone.

        A problem with the phone will evenyually get fixed [i]sometime[/i] in the future, but lost sales due to the public knowing the product is defective can't get "fixed" until the 2 year contract they signed getting another phone expires.

        Better to get as many sales as possible today, worry about the technical issues tommorow.

        After all, at that point they have those customers for 2 years, they now have time to fix the problem when they get around to it.
        William Farrell
      • Public knows that very little quantity of users experience problems with ..

        @William Farrell: .. battery life. So the chances that a new buyer will face the same problem before update will come are very low.
      • RE: 'Batterygate': Apple's deathly silence, more transparency needed?


        How can it be obvious they are looking into the issue if they deny such an issue exists? The purpose of such a statement is that they are actively correcting problems out of their customers' best interest. Not saying anything says either "we deny a problem exists" or "we don't care enough about our existing customers to let them know we are working to address their needs".
        Michael Kelly
      • Exactly, DeRSSS

        the less the public knows, or believe they know, is better for Apple.
        If Apple (or any company) talks (or doesn't talk) a large scale issue into a small one, they have the customer right where they need them - at their stores.

        So PR is the priority now, not the actual scale of the problem.
        If by PR it's meant that "The less the [b]Public[/b] knows about the problem, the better our [b]Retail[/b] sales will be, then thats a real good indicator that remaining silent is the [i]best[/i] course of action for them.
        William Farrell
    • RE: 'Batterygate': Apple's deathly silence, more transparency needed?

      @A Grain of Salt I've been following Apple for years and this is simply, 100%, completely NOT TRUE. Apple doesn't admit to problems because they don't want to fix them, because it might make them look bad and they're all about maintaining a facade. Except it's a lie. They're constantly touted as "loved" (even in this article), but I wonder how much love they get from users who's devices are bricked and who get the hand in the face when they bring it up with Apple. The only embarrassment to Apple is admitting that they're not the pinnacle of perfection, that Jobs was God, and that you should consider yourself lucky to even have lived at the same time as him. THAT'S what Apple is afraid of -- scrutiny, reality, truth. Because if people really learned about Apple, their products, how they're developed, and how they REALLY stack up to the competition, they wouldn't be where they are now.
      • RE: 'Batterygate': Apple's deathly silence, more transparency needed?

        @PatrickBay.ca You couldn't see the truth through your hatred glazed glasses if it were two inches from your face. Apple isn't perfect, never claimed to be. Just like with any other company they make mistakes and your hate filled belief they do admit their mistakes, they just don't make they out to be the huge issues that the haters and bloggers want them to be.
    • RE: 'Batterygate': Apple's deathly silence, more transparency needed?

      @A Grain of Salt - Thank you, you must be someone who understand business or has been around the block a few times. If given a reasonable amount of time and Apple still did not respond, that is reason to cry wolf. I see no issue with Apple's wait period to ensure they understand the problem and can respond with a timeframe for a solution.
    • RE: 'Batterygate': Apple's deathly silence, more transparency needed?

      @A Grain of Salt - Actually, if you have followed Apple for any length of time you would realize that they don't usually say anything until they are certain how to spin it in a way that tries to convince everyone that a) it's not that bad, and b) it's not their fault.

      This is a huge miscalculation on their part of just how badly iOS 5 with all of its automatic notifications, automatic location services uploading, and iCloud synchronizations is going to eat up the battery life of their mobile appliances, degrade performance when these clandestine operations are in progress, and potentially create unexpected costs for users as their service providers begin implementing data caps and metered services.

      Apple is and always has been the "Wizard of Oz". Time for their loyal following to wake up and leave "Munchkin Land".
      • RE: 'Batterygate': Apple's deathly silence, more transparency needed?

        @MeerkatMac And they are correct, it's not as bad as the haters and bloggers would like everyone to believe just like antennagate was blown so way out of proportion. As an iPhone user with several iOS devices in my household I can speak from experience that it truly isn't that bad.
    • And Apple CONTINUES to use their customers as Beta Testers.

      What a crock.
      • RE: 'Batterygate': Apple's deathly silence, more transparency needed?

        @IT_Fella So what OS is on your phone which isn't basically using you as a beta tester?
    • RE: 'Batterygate': Apple's deathly silence, more transparency needed?

      A fix will be out shortly... in the meantime stop your whining... "Batterygate"? Oh brother you guys are ridiculous.

      Here's what you do:
      Turn off location services unless you need it.
      Turn off iCloud until the fix is out.
      Turn off auto time until fix is out.

      Enjoy a full day plus with your iPhone 4 and 4s... geez you guys are ridiculous.