Where’s the Humility?
I’m not alone in thinking that Antennagate, as it’s being called, has been overplayed by the press. What’s interesting is not that the new iPhone has a flaw – anyone here ever encountered an imperfect device before? – but how Steve Jobs reacted to the news.
First he denied that there was a problem. Bad move, but not exactly unprecedented. Then he claimed it was a software problem – basically lying about how easy it was to fix. When no one swallowed that, he said, “So what? Everyone else has the same problem.” And uncomfortable glances shot across the room. Was Captain Queeg losing his grip right before our eyes?
Now he’s grudgingly agreed to supply free bumpers or cases to whiners.
Permit me a small irony. The joke going around – that Steve Jobs’s press conference didn’t work because he didn’t “hold it the right way” is on the money.
Jobs claims that a lot of people love to attack successful companies, but in fact, his company has had not only an amazingly loyal following, but an astounding amount of free publicity from an eager press. Apparently, he concluded that Apple was invincible, and so they failed to test their phone adequately, secure in the knowledge that their sales department were choking on pre-orders.
I’ve noted before that humility isn’t exactly a business buzzword, but it should be.
Had it occured to Jobs this time to step into the shoes of the user, as he so often has with brilliant success, this whole thing would have blown over by now. Humility – the understanding that you don’t have all the answers, that you can always learn from your customers and competitors – is a core value that no innovator can afford to abandon.