Apple’s iPhone yields rich pickings for headline writers

Acres of copy have been written about Apple’s iPhone 4 debacle these last few weeks and it has been interesting to see the company’s public relations response – probably the most forthcoming I’ve ever seen Apple in 2o-odd years, but also probably too little too late for them to alter the now entrenched opinion that while Apple is clever and makes cool stuff, it values itself more than its customers.

In the early days, when Apple sat in the long shadow of Microsoft and others, it developed a loyal and devoted user base (of which I have been a part since it went public in 1980). We forgave them being snotty and slow to respond to us as we were enjoying the stability and fun delivered by some really good products –  as all the while, PCs crashed into oblivion around us. But, with the mass customer gains delivered in the last decade, the company continues to treat its customers with the kind of arrogance that, whilst perhaps rebelliously stylish in the 1980s, does nothing to increase trust or brand loyalty. Possibly this latest faux pas might just get some new thinking going – but I suspect not.

Anyway, that observation aside, the reason for this post was to share my favourite Apple headline (so far) this week from a site in India which proclaimed ‘Nerd Riot Averted’.  The best headlines paint a clear picture of what’s going on – and this one gave me both a picture and a laugh. Of the 5230 news articles generated on the subject over the last six hours, the majority of the headlines have clustered around ‘Antennagate’, ‘Fail’ and share prices. A few have reflected the real – and lasting problem – that Apple faces: that of the ‘tin ear’ described by Canada’s Financial Post.

At recent PRINZ seminars we have been exploring – among many other things – the necessity for sharp headlines that tell the story, work as an RSS feed taster and can nimbly turn themselves into a tweet.  Eight is the magic number for an RSS word count, six is better, three is great – particularly if it can deliver the kind of ‘read-me’ intrigue generated by the thought of a Nerd Riot. That said, and as I count myself among the nerds and geeks of this world, I can assure you that in reality we would never riot because either our glasses (if worn) would get knocked off or, more critically,  we might damage one or more of our mobile devices in the scuffle.  As fellow devotees of the Big Bang Theory will know, we simply tut, re-programme something or head to the comic book store in search of a time when a non-operational antenna meant Superman would soon be on his way to make the fix.

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