It's no secret that I am an Apple
Still, recent headlines made me wonder whether Apple -- once the epitome of the scrappy underdog and, for some, arguably the technological champion of those who believe themselves to be free thinkers, or at least free from Microsoft's
The headlines I speak of describe a recent incident involving a book called iCon: Steve Jobs, the Greatest Second Act in the History of Business. Apple apparently got a hold of an advance copy of the unauthorized biography, and after a month's worth of attempts to scuttle the book's publication, it has now removed all books by publisher John Wiley & Sons from Apple stores, in protest.
The first clue as to why Apple might be miffed comes in the title. The word "icon" is a compliment ("one who is the object of great attention and devotion; an idol," according to dictionary.com), as is a line like "the greatest second act in the history of business." Interpreting things that way, it sounds like a fairly positive title. But there is, of course, this play on words: "I con." Even if the book does contain some less-than-idolizing content about Jobs, which seems certain, well, as long as it's not slanderous, some negative opinion is just one of the downsides of being a public figure.
Secondly, removing the publisher's books from Apple stores simply appears petty. The media blitz about said move certainly doesn't do much for Apple -- and it has likely achieved exactly what the company didn't want by stoking interest in the book.
Last week, I complained about some alleged whining concerning Jobs. By the same token, though, I think Apple deserves a taste of that same medicine for this move.
When it comes to customer affection, Apple has the wind at its back right now. Why risk ruining it? Although Apple's recent flurry of lawsuits against individuals, including a 19-year-old, is a complicated issue (I can understand the dangers of leaked trade secrets), playing the role of a corporate heavy may start to alienate its customer base, especially the core that really identifies with the "think different" slogan. To those people, trying to block books and removing them from the shelves has an awfully oppressive feel, I'm sure, and "oppressive" and "think different" are hardly synonymous.
Look out, Apple. The company shouldn't lose sight of what many of its customers believe it to be.
Read some recent Apple content:
- Apple Falls Far From the Tree
- Should Apple's Shareholders Worry
- The iPod Distraction Factor
- Who's Out of iTune?
- An Addictive Taste of iPod
Members of our Apple discussion board are talking about this issue and more. (I agree with one Fool's sentiment regarding this news item: Lighten up, Apple!) To think different and talk Apple, visit our Apple discussion board.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.