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Tim Cook says people didn’t pay attention to iPhone battery update


Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.


A little inattention from Apple?


Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Apple squirmed a little after it was revealed that it was secretly slowing older iPhones to protect their batteries from excessive degradation. 

Cupertino subsequently apologized and instituted a battery replacement program for a mere $29.

On Wednesday, however, Tim Cook seemed to stumble around a little when asked whether Apple might have failed to properly inform customers about what was going on. 

In an interview with ABC News, Apple’s CEO began his answer to the question not by apologizing but by saying: “When we did put it [the software update] out, we did say what it was, but I don’t think a lot of people were paying attention.”

This is rather the point, some might say.

When you download a software update on your iPhone, do you ever know what it will actually do? You might see a few words about, I don’t know, stabilization or something. In essence, though, you’re trusting Apple to protect your phone and make it continue to function. 

Shouldn’t have Apple been a little more direct and public about what it was doing?

Cook conceded that the company didn’t demonstrate perfect communication skills over something that might have been considered important and wasn’t discovered for a year.

“Maybe we should have been clearer, as well,” he said. 

Yes, maybe. 

The impression left in some eyes was that Apple was cleverly nudging its customers to upgrade their phones to, say, faster models.

“We deeply apologize for anybody that thinks we had some other kind of motivation,” Cook added.

The problem now is that even though Apple moved swiftly, supply of some of the replacement batteries may be exhausted. iPhone 6 Plus batteries, for example, reportedly won’t be available until March.

Cook intimated, though, that customers will be given more information and choice about the phone-slowing in a developer beta next month. Users will be able to see whether it’s happening. But, added Cook, “if you don’t want it, you can turn it off.”

He said he didn’t recommend it, as the phone might endure a sudden restart.

Apple announced on Wednesday it’s investing $30 billion in the US and adding 20,000 jobs, but I suspect the battery snafu may not have too great an effect on Apple’s brand. 

I fear that consumers have progressively lost trust in tech companies doing anything other than what suits tech companies. They’ve just accepted it as reality.

The problem for Apple is that it’s always positioned itself as being more caring and people-focused than other, more obviously nerdy rivals. 

Cook’s slightly tortured answer suggests he’s acutely aware of that.

Oh, and in case you thought that Apple might make customers feel better by making iPhones cheaper, Cook didn’t encourage the thought.

He said that though the corporate side of the tax bill would lead to greater investment, he felt the iPhone was fairly priced.



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