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Apple: tops in mobiles, laptops and arrogance

Apple employs some of the best computing minds on the planet. It makes some of the best designed devices, both big and small. It has oodles of cash stashed away for rainy days.

But one thing it possesses in great abundance is rarely spoken about – arrogance. Apple has it in spades.

Dealing with the company at any level means that one has to be geared up to face the incredible arrogance that is a hallmark of anyone who works there, from the so-called "genius bar" folk to the PR people.

Why does Apple have public relations people in its employ at all? The chief executive Tim Cook would be well advised to sack the entire department and bank the money that is saved.

For they contribute nothing to the company. They certainly do not create any goodwill – as I experienced once again when I asked the Australian operation a simple query on Wednesday.

pretty big

Ain't I the prettiest and best-looking on the globe?

Apple, of course, never likes to be asked queries, not about things that reflect badly on its great corporate image, whatever remains of it. Following a report that Russia, yes the evil empire, had found that Apple's operations within its borders were fixing prices, I asked Apple for their reaction.

The original report was in London's Financial Times. A pointer to the findings by the Russian authorities showed that many details had been glossed over in the FT report.

I duly used all these details and thought it would be fair, as always, to let Apple have its say. This, by the way, is a courtesy one extends to any and every individual or company about which one carries an adverse report.

My report on the price-fixing was published about 9.15am AEDT. A woman from Apple called me in the afternoon.

She said very brusquely that she could not provide me with any statement and that if I looked at the Financial Times, then I could see what the company had said. Having provided this woman with a link to my story when I wrote to Apple, it should have been obvious to her that I had already seen the FT story.

But then Apple people are perhaps too busy to read, before they respond. After all, they belong to what they think is the most important company in the world.

So I asked said woman if she was trying to authorise my taking quotes from the FT. She was somewhat flummoxed — it looks like nobody questions Apple's PR people at all — and repeated what she had said: I could look at the FT to find out what Apple's reaction was.

I then told her, firmly, that she was not in a position to authorise anyone to copy material from the FT. I added that for an international company to react in this manner was a pretty poor show.

She did not have much to say thereafter and soon the call ended.

A simple email, saying "Apple has no comment" would have sufficed. But I guess Apple employees love to take every opportunity to display their arrogance to the world and metaphorically say, "mine is bigger than yours".

As the old saying has it, pride goes before a fall. Microsoft had a similar attitude back in the early 2000s and look at them now. Every dog has his day and Apple will have its too. Just bear in mind that bankruptcy was on the cards at Cupertino in 1997.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.