Apple’s Curious PR Cycle

Posted on December 20, 2016 by Brad Sams in Hardware with 19 Comments

Mac Nears 10 Percent Usage Share

If you haven’t been paying close attention the last twenty-four hours or so, it has been a weird ride of Apple related content circling the web. The information posted to sites like Bloomberg and TechCrunch paints an interesting story about how the company is reacting to the recent hardware release cycle from both themselves and competitors.

Late yesterday, Tim Cook posted to an internal message board that the company is still dedicated to the Mac and has new products in the pipeline. It’s not hard to justify why many are thinking that Apple has given up on its desktop PCs considering that Apple hasn’t updated the design of the Mac mini since 2010 or the design of the iMac since 2012 and the Mac Pro hasn’t been refreshed since it was introduced in 2013.

So, when what seems like a random message gets leaked (or intentionally sent out) saying the company is still committed to the Mac and has new products coming, it felt odd considering it’s late December and why would a company issue a statement like this during the crucial holiday shopping season?

Specifically, Cook wrote (via TechCrunch) “If there’s any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops in our roadmap. Nobody should worry about that.”

This morning, Bloomberg posted up a story about internal frustration about Mac development at Apple and how the company is giving the product less attention than in prior years. It’s a great read, you can find it here; what this story did was explain why Tim Cook posted a message explaining that the Mac is not going away and that new products are in the pipeline.

For those not familiar with how journalism works, typically when you are writing a story that has insider information that paints a picture like Bloomberg has done, you ask the company for a comment. What I believe happened here is that Bloomberg reached out to Apple before publishing their post (they noted they asked Apple for comment) and Apple, wanting to try and head-off the post which they knew was coming, created their own press cycle by saying new products are in the pipeline.

It’s a classic case of PR trying to downplay an upcoming news post and it’s interesting to see which publications fell for Apple’s pseudo release. It’s also a bit crappy on Apple’s part, journalists asking for comment before publishing a post is a way to communicate with those who you cover and by Apple shoving out a release (even if internally to a company-wide message board, they knew it would ‘leak’) was their attempt to squash an authentic post about their products.

Apple’s MacBook Pro has received a mixed bag of reviews with the press being a bit more positive about the new laptop but in the hands of professionals (especially the creative-types who Apple historically catered to) the feedback hasn’t been as positive. And while I don’t want to turn this into yet another Microsoft is stealing Apple’s base, it’s hard to ignore that the Studio, while expensive, is attacking the former core of Apple’s user-base.



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Comments (19)

19 responses to “Apple’s Curious PR Cycle”

  1. 4506

    Remember when Tim Cook said that the PC is dead?


    Yeah..............Apple and Tim Cook is confused

  2. 9412

    I am a serious user of Apple products. I have a 5K iMac, iPhone, and MacBook Pro. I was disappointed with the new MacBook Pros, but it is still working well right now. I am very much in a wait and see mood. Luckily I never abandoned Windows, so a switch back would not be too hard. 

    • 5767

      In reply to cyclequark:

      You keep giving your money to Apple so they have no incentive to change.

      • 5485

        In reply to MutualCore:

        Its hard no to give them money. I just bought a MacBook Pro 15" from 2015. Guess what Windows 10 runs faster inside a Virtual Machine in this PC than it ran on a Surface Pro 3 with a Core i7 ... and I have the battery life and I have a quiet and predictable machine. I would like to have Pen and Touch as long as the basics are done right. Not at the expense of the basics. 

        Over all I payed for a Surface Pro 3 system the same (if I include dock and the second keyboard I had to buy) and In less than 2 years I'm moving out. (unlike the previous Macbook 15 that endured 4 years and is still blasting for the kids). If consider how quickly I felt the need to move, probably I could have saved some money If I had not bough the Surface and bought a Macbook 15" pack than and probably today I would be buying an iPad Pro and still overall would have spent less than I had to spend to get along with the Surface Pro 3 shortcomings. Looked good on paper, enticing innovation, and dashing looks ... it was an extremely expensive bet on my part.

        I considered the Surface Book but I'll let other bite that bullet thank you very much.

        I still think that MS has the right formula for the future of PC's. Right outer design, display aspect ratio and quality, the cover keyboard is a good idea, performance bases is a nice way to expand the capacity of these machines so on and so forth. The all shebang is more innovative than todays Apple devices. But the execution is flawed to the point that makes the Surface a really expensive solution, way beyond the price tag.

        • 1753

          In reply to nbplopes:

          I'm guessing you don't have Bitlocker turned on in the VM, but it is on by default on Sufrace Pros. That will take some performance away - I noticed that, when I switched from a SP3 to an HP Spectre x360.

          • 5485

            In reply to wright_is:

            I have the Volt enabled on the OSX (bitlocker) .  So the entire Windows 10 virtual machine is run over that. 

            But now that I have a second laptop ill reset the SP3 and disable bitlocker.  It will be used by my wife.  She only does MS Office,  browse and flash games anyway. 

            The SP2 that she has used goes for my older one (9,years old), My old MacBook 15 from 2009 still running sweet even though is looks like a truck has passed over it, stays with my youngest.  6 years old. 


  3. 2532

    And this is why I have dutifully been ignoring apple for the past two years. They have put the Mac in a holding pattern as they milk every last dollar out of the iPhone. Which has also been put on hold with no real innovation other than the high price for the last two years.

  4. 5714

    That Bloomberg article was nothing more than a consolidation of comments made about Apple products on Apple websites for the last two years.  Nothing in that article was NEW information.  But where is the article on Intel?  Every new generation of Intel Processors, is an ever-so-slight increase in performance and features over last year's model that it's not even worth paying attention.  I agree with Apple ... THE WORLD doesn't need a new Intel Processor every year.

    Tim Cook is a GENIUS for realizing that you can still sell products without the latest and greatest "minor improvements" from Intel.  Do you actually think that a Kaby Lake Processor will enable running applications that Sky Lake processor can't?  In reality, you need bench-marking tools to tell the difference if you didn't have the specs printed out for you on the box that your laptop shipped in.

    Basically ... what all this boils down to is that APPLE IS INNOVATING. But this isn't product's schedule and profit innovation.  Intel can come out with new processors every year but Apple doesn't have to subscribe to that ludicrous timeline.  Mark my words...when PC manufacturers figure out what Apple is doing to reduce engineering costs and improve profit margins...they will all quickly follow Apple's lead.

    As for the new MacBook Pro ... Every first iteration of a new MacBook Pro design was the worst product of the series. And people are surprised by this now?  This has happened three times before in the last decade .. just looking at the MacBook Pro!  First generation Surface Pro users know what I'm talking about....  Yea.. it's like that.

  5. 5394

    I hate my iPhone 6 battery draining issue. My phone craps out at 40%. I read the problem might be the iOS 10.1.1 version and not the actual battery. I had to bring an extra battery pack to prevent a shutdown. Just terrible. 

  6. 4962

    The machine is working on full power 'covering' news about the real products with: 'we made a $159.00 BT-headset'. Now suddenly a very expensive headset is a thing people rave about?!

  7. 9424

    I did PR for Apple for 10 years. Read my Harvard Business Review piece here and follow me on Twitter @Cam_CommsGuy for more.

  8. 5485

    DISCLAIMER: I just like good products. The cheaper the the more I like them, yet that has nothing to do with being good products or not, but a matter of budget.

    There are several things going on at Apple. But its becoming a different company that it was yet not for the better, my opinion.

    There are indication that its a company that may be becoming trapped in the money game, and loosing focus on innovation, usability, robustness and quality all together. This is not an uncommon phenomena, it can happen with any highly successful company. It happened with MS, with Nokia, IBM and many others.

    Take for instance leaving out the power extension in the latest MacBook Pro incantation. There no vector coming from innovation, usability, robustness and quality that could sustain such a decision. It actually hurts all of them. So what can drive a person the decision to hurt the vectors that made the company so great, in other to get a bit more profit with no value return to the customer? The money game.

    Take for instance Apple turn to fashion. Where are the vector innovation, usability, robustness and quality sustaining such a decision? Did Apple solve any problem in the fashion Industry? Did the fashion Industry solve any problem for Apple? (Or would). No, the decision was made based on the money game.

    This is not the same has when Apple turned to the Music Industry. It actually came with up with different slant to that Industry. The same when it came with the iPhone.

    Its seams that year over year their revenue is being eschewed around the iPhone based on the money game than anything else. Is Apple becoming addicted to the money game?

    Hopefully that will be corrected soon.

  9. 5592

    In reply to Robin:

    Nope. Totally backwards. Brad is absolutely right.

    If you are writing a story it is a courtesy to contact the company to comment for inclusion in your story. It's good journalism and gives them a chance to get their side covered.

    If companies use that as a chance to preempt that story it means that journalists can no longer risk asking for comment and will run what they have with no chance for the company to get their voice heard except as what will come across as a whining complaint that they weren't asked for comment.


  10. 217

    I have to say, this is the first time in a long time the Mac line is under heavy scrutiny, I see posts from hardcore loyalists either complaining heavily or even jumping ship. But let's put this all in perspective: desktop computing is quickly becoming niche, so of course Apple would be paying less attention to their Mac line. It's also obvious and only a matter of time before the Mac moves to ARM and iOS and OS X merge (UI wise since they have the same underlying architecture).  

    As for Apple's PR, no surprise, this is the way Apple treats journalists anyway, unless you're Gruber or Mossberg. 

    • 442

      In reply to dcdevito:

      Desktop computing has always been a niche.  Especially when you mix in the vast selection of needs, types and uses.  Nothing in that will ever change.  Computer was never intended to be a one size fits all endeavor. 

      • 1753

        In reply to Narg:

        Exactly, and, working in industry, I see no replacement of dekstop or laptop PCs with other devices at the moment - with the exception of 19"+ touch displays on the production lines, which are essentially a PC (Windows or Linux) running inside an industry casing with a touchscreen.

        In the office, most workers are sat at a desk and are working at their computers. For them, having multiple windows open (E.g. CAD on one screen, ERP on the other) or large spreadsheets open to crunch numbers is standard procedure.

        Even in the reception area, the large console switchboard is being replaced with an on-screen display of employees and their status and just point and click to connect a call. Good luck doing that on a 5" display.

        For non-information workers, a smartphone or tablet on the move works well. For sales people, who need to show information and add orders from a simple list of products, a custom tablet solution works well.

        We are seeing more diversity - as tablets and smartphones become more capable, they are moving into areas where people on the move can downsize from a laptop to a more mobile device - although I have also seen sales people receive tablets and they still use the PC for most demonstrations, the iPad is relegated to the role of email monitoring device in meetings.

  11. 2235

    The Bloomberg article is a great read and a good piece of journalism. The supposed infighting reminds me of the Mac vs Apple IIE scenario back in the day. I don't see anything odd about Apple's preemptive strike, as  they have to at least jab a bit because they have taking some lumps with the mac book pro launch and the airpods.

    I do find it odd that they would launch the Macbook pro when it seemed they weren't happy with it, at least as far as battery life goes. It seemed very un-Apple of them. 

  12. 5510

    This isn't crappy, it's normal for a company to do this. It's smart because let's face it, journalism in the USA is absolutely dead. Journalism is just absolutely pathetic. If Apple is  trying to control the narrative, then so what? Microsoft isn't exactly innocent on this either. Microsoft makes claims that are questionable and they don't even seen to want to field questions about it. 

    Brad, you may have somewhat explained how journalism works, but what Apple did is how business a real business works.

  13. 8630

    But Brad you missed the whole reason that Apple was forced to put out any PR Posts, this is to offset the negative Consumer Reports reviews of the latest MacBook pros