Taking The Blame

October 17th, 2006

Apple shipped a Windows virus on a very small number of iPods, but like a child who can’t say sorry without adding a “but” clause, their announcement falls short of complete contrition.

“As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it.”

John Gruber picked up on the inappropriateness of this language, and I agree. Let me see if I have this straight. When making commercials, Apple celebrates Windows’s greater susceptibility to viruses, but when the problem actually bites them in an embarrassing way, it’s time for exasperated anger.

You can’t have it both ways, Apple. If you’re gonna run in that race you have to play by those rules. Would it be nice for Windows to improve its resilience to viruses? Sure. But in that culture, one of the ways viruses are controlled is through diligence by vendors in not redistributing them. There’s nobody to blame here but yourselves.

This is a great example of a situation where a simple confession would have been best. “Yes. We did it. We’re sorry. Let’s move on.” Or, applying a simple edit to their actual statement:

“As you might imagine, we are upset with ourselves for not catching it.”

Yes, that I can imagine.

11 Responses to “Taking The Blame”

  1. Krishen Says:

    Fully agreed. It’s shameful, and I really hope Apple modifies or removes the statement outright.

  2. Spyro Says:

    In fact it’s just one more company (the factory producing the iPods in that case) that has been plagued by a virus because of windows vulnerability. What do you suggest ? That companies that have problems due to lack of security in windows just stop complaining about it ? Always put the blame on the virus or the lack of use of an appropriate anti-virus ? Has windows become a natural disaster ?

    Of course it is still their full responsibility for not taking the appropriate precautions in their use of windows (any company that does not have up-to-date anti virus software is to blame). The “and up to date anti-virus software which is included with most Windows computers should detect and remove it” part certainly makes them look stupid…

    An on the PR side of the things, it certainly was not good…

  3. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    All I suggest is that Apple do everything they can to prevent this happening again, and when or if it does happen again, take full resonsibility for it.

    I understand it was a problem that problem fell down to one small contributor to Apple’s product production line. I think the complexity of the situation combined with the well-known vulnerabilities of Windows are what make this kind of error survivable. The bad PR of the virus mistake is in my opinion not as bad as the bad PR of failing to take full responsibility for it.

  4. charles Says:

    Agreed too.

  5. Ed Says:

    Did you really take that statement as an attempt to evade responsibility? It was obviously a marketing plug and as such is quite consistent with their ads.

  6. Wes Says:

    Did you really take that statement as an attempt to evade responsibility? It was obviously a marketing plug and as such is quite consistent with their ads.

    Of course, there are some times where a company should turn its marketing apparatus off — especially if it can come across as akin to someone telling a rape victim that “Well, you were dressed sluttily.”

  7. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Ed: while I’m not sure I’d make quite the comparison Wes did :) … I agree with the basic sentiment. Yes! I do believe it could have been a marketing move. But no, I don’t believe a technical support article, where you’re explaining to customers that you’ve just delivered a virus to them, is the right place for marketing.

  8. K-Dub Says:

    Can you imagine if Johnson & Johnson had said, “As you can imagine, we’re upset that the human body is not more hardy against cyanide, and even more upset that poison has appeared in our product.” I doubt you would even find Tylenol on store shelves. Instead, J&J stepped up and took full responsiblity, and today Tylenol remains an incredibly strong product and brand.

    I’m quite shocked that Apple, a company so good at marketing, would make this kind of P.R. mistake.

  9. JOHN CORBIN Says:

    BUT, Windows is a whore for viruses!
    I know the alleged Mactelligentsia is too blinded by techno-literacy to see this for what it is: Apple is telling users that Windows is the slut on the corner of malware. Windows does deserve this, and users need to know that Windows is just as untrustworthy as the malware programmer. This is something many Windows users do not know. They just think EVERY computer is equally vulnerable.
    Think like real people, occasionally, guys.

  10. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    JOHN: Most of the “real people” I know don’t appreciate being accused of consorting with sluts and whores.

  11. Mike Abdullah Says:

    I just found it rather funny to be honest (the press release). As long as Apple don’t try it again in a press release that it is. If so, then they just look very stupid to me.

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