Apple needs to focus on winning back trust

Apple sets itself as a company that people can trust, and yet over the past few months it's has been caught out both deliberately slowing down older iPhone and misleading customers about the durability of its products.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

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The past few months have eroded my trust in Apple in a big way. And quite honestly, if you're going to be spending thousands of dollars of hardware with a company, and handing over to it vast swathes of personal data, you need trust.

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It's been a bad few months for Apple. It began when it surfaced -- quite by accident -- that Apple was deliberately throttling some older iPhones where the battery could no longer keep up with the demands placed on it. Now, Apple might have had a good reason to do this (in fact, in many ways I think its solution to the problem was a pretty elegant one), but the fact that it didn't explain to iPhone users what it was doing (followed by the quite frankly weak response that Apple CEO Tim Cook offered up) amounted to a huge, glaring breach of trust.

Apple forgot that it no longer owned the iPhones it was surreptitiously tweaking in order to hide what feels to me like a design problem.

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Then the other day, unsealed court documents revealed that Apple knew that the iPhone 6 had a "Bendgate" problem, but rather than own up to the problem, the company issued a statement downplaying the issue.

It was a gamble that worked. Well, right up until a class-action lawsuit relating to another iPhone issue -- this time the "touch disease" flaw -- raked it up into view.

How many more skeletons does Apple have in its closet waiting to fall out? It's hard to imagine that there are none given that two have already made an undignified appearance over the course of a few months.

And that's the problem with trust. Once it has evaporated, it takes a lot of work to bring it back.

And this is work that I don't see Apple doing.

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The company is great about telling us how awesome it is, and how many of this or that it has sold, or how it promises to behave in ethical ways with our data, but it's also clear that it's a company that works hard to avoid taking responsibility for issues, bulldozering them into the future and hoping they don't come to light.

What else is Apple hoping doesn't surface?

With WWDC 2018 kicking off today, Apple has an opportunity to address this issue of trust. And let's face it, this is the perfect venue for such openness, because the developers that Apple rely on for the awesome apps that drive adoption of its hardware have a lot to lose if caught up in the crossfire of a scandal.

But, as with most things Apple-related, I'm not holding my breath.

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