Monday, 5 July 2010

Can Apple be trusted?

We run a lot of workshops on the subject of trust.  As part of the standard lead in to get people to understand the importance of trust, we run a simple exercise that asks them to choose the most trustworthy company from a list.

Now, I'll readily admit there are some ringers in the list.  We usually place some 'hot topics' in there to keep things interesting, and no-one ever expects Toyota, BP, Enron, or the latest villain of the peace to come out on top, however the winner is surprisingly consistent.... over the last couple of years it's always Apple.

Now, I'm no Apple-basher, not in the slightest.  I like them and am intruiged by the business.  I read a fascinating book about them recently (Return to the Little Kingdom by Michael Moritz) which fuelled the intrigue even further.  I believe they make truly great 'stuff'.  I have an iPod.  I'd like an iPhone.  I'd like a go on an iPad!  But it staggers me the degree of almost 'blind' trust people have in them as a business.

On the last group workshop we ran, I challenged the group who had (once again) put Apple top of the pile.  I'll admit that my main intention was to be combative and ramp up the conversation, but I was genuinely interested to see the reaction.  I'll be interested in what you make of these challenges too.

3 Reasons why we shouldn't trust Apple:

1) We shouldn't trust companies that don't talk to their customers.  Apple talk AT us, with no interest in shaping their products to our needs, rather they shape us to their products.

2) We shouldn't trust companies that don't trust us.  They don't trust us to (truly) choose our own apps, customise our phone, or even change our own batteries.  They don't even trust us to hold our phones correctly!

3) We shouldn't trust companies who don't act with transparency.  Apple have publicly 'embraced' open standards, but then privately created new, closed standards that limit transparency and openness.

So, can Apple really be trusted?

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