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The Apologetic Apple

By Evan Niu, CFA - Updated Apr 10, 2017 at 1:54PM

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Tim Cook has made his mark on Apple in numerous ways in his time as CEO, but here's another way how the executive differs from Steve Jobs.

This makes two. Apple (AAPL -5.64%) has now apologized directly to consumers twice in the past six months for various reasons. There are many ways that Tim Cook has made his mark on Apple, and here's another: Apple is more apologetic now than ever before.

Back in September amid backlash over Apple Maps, Cook posted a letter on Apple's site directly addressing the criticism and admitting that the company "fell short" of its own quality expectations. The debacle was also a contributing factor in then-iOS chief Scott Forstall's ouster, since he had reportedly refused to put his name on the apology even though Maps fell under his umbrella at the time. The good news was that Maps didn't seem to affect iPhone sales at all.

Cook has now posted another apology, but this time for the company's Chinese consumers. Apple has been taking heat over its warranty policies in the Middle Kingdom lately. State-controlled media outlets have been bashing the iPhone maker as the government has been trying to undermine foreign companies in favor of local companies.

China Central Television alleged that Apple's warranty policies differed in China and put Chinese consumers at a disadvantage relative to other countries. Apple's initial response before Cook's letter was that its warranties all over the world are "more or less the same."

Consumers weren't pleased about iPhone repair policies, and Cook has now implemented numerous changes in response to customer feedback. In addition, Apple is outlining its warranty policies for all of its major products to boost transparency.

Apologies from Apple were rare under Steve Jobs. The Apple co-founder inked an apology letter after Apple dropped the original iPhone's price by $200 just months after launching in 2007, offering a $100 credit to placate early adopters. After Jobs initially downplayed the 2010 Antennagate scandal by simply saying, "Just avoid holding it in that way," the iPhone maker eventually bit the bullet and offered a free case alongside an apology.

Apple is much more talkative under Cook, and that also means that the company is more willing to say it's sorry when it needs to. Maybe next Cook will apologize to investors for having to wait so long for that inevitable dividend boost.

Apologies aside, there is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.

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