Philip Schiller, Apple's head of worldwide product marketing, needs a new title: Firefighter. Schiller is increasingly putting out fires---notable complaints about Apple's App Store---by tuning in and responding to concerns directly.
Schiller reached out to iPhone app developer Steven Frank, who was pondering an Apple iPhone boycott over the Google Voice approval flap. Frank also read Schiller's email on an Android phone. Schiller's message: We hear your complaints.
Last week, Schiller reached out to Daring Fireball's John Gruber, who tore into Apple for its App Store treatment of Ninjawords, an iPhone app.
You can argue that it's odd that a top exec at Apple---Schiller has filled in for Jobs during keynote speeches---but the effort is a big deal.
Schiller is fulfilling a big need at Apple---he's putting a face on the company. Apple has a face---Steve Jobs---but the genius at the helm doesn't come off as approachable. In fact, Apple as a company doesn't come off as all that approachable. Apple is the cool kid in the class that knows everything---and doesn't mind telling you about it. And its followers just magnify this perception.
Apple is pure genius, but way too hip to listen to you---the followers in this Simpsons spoof.
Apple will increasingly face competition for its App Store and it can't afford key defections by prominent developers. Schiller's efforts put out the fires before they rage out of control and put a more friendly face on the company in the process.