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Too many secrets: Three ways Apple could loosen up

Abbi Perets | March 6, 2013
Apple's famous for keeping secrets, but there are some cases where its closed-mouth nature may not be doing it any favors.

This lack of information from Apple also creates some truly insane black markets, particularly in the Far East. I happened to be in Singapore in late October 2012--after the iPhone 5 had been officially released there--and I stopped by six or seven Premium Apple Resellers (there isn't a brick-and-mortar Apple store in Singapore). None could tell me when they'd get a new shipment of iPhones.

And yet they were surrounded by unofficial sellers in kiosks with plentiful stock--albeit it at a hefty markup. In some places, 16GB phones were being sold for as much as $1250 U.S. dollars. Apple's obviously not making the extra profit on those sales, and the price gouging only feeds the frustration of even the most dedicated Apple fans.

Why not communicate more clearly on supply issues? Why not let the stores that are officially affiliated with Apple--and of course the official Apple Stores themselves-- know when stock will be available? Apple's often regarded as having the best supply chain in the business; this seems like another way Apple could take one of its strengths and apply it to its stated mission of delighting its customers.

Here comes the sun

Despite these and similar issues, there are signs that Apple may be lifting the cone of silence. In October 2012, the company announced a restructuring that put several key executives--Jony Ive, Eddy Cue, Craig Federighi, and Bob Mansfield--in a position to oversee larger groups of developers. If we're lucky, this restructuring will, as the press release promised, "encourage even more collaboration between ... hardware, software and services teams."

We can haggle over whether "even more" is the right term to use--it certainly doesn't set the bar very high--but the point is that Tim Cook doesn't seem to be afraid to kick down a few windowless walls and open things up a bit.

That starts with Cook himself: A few months before the reorganization, Cook emailed a customer to reassure him that the company would address the pro Mac market with "something really great" in 2013. Yes, it's vague, but it's more information than we've often been given in the past--and we didn't have to wait for an official event to hear it.

So I think there are grounds to be cautiously optimistic that things are changing for the better. And that's one secret that should be shouted from the rooftops.


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