Recent months have been profitable and uncomfortable for Apple Computer.
In the shadow of record iPhone and iPad sales, fair labor and human rights groups have taken aim at the company and its suppliers for how it treats those who manufacture the works of art.
Facing pressure from its customers, the media and elected leaders, Apple opted to move towards transparency, opening the doors to ABC News Nightline Anchor Bill Weir.
The “unprecedented” tour of the Foxconn factory where the Apple iPads and iPhones are created was very interesting. Though 20 minutes hardly seemed long enough to really “tell” the story, the show provided a glimpse into the factories that have generated so many products and so much controversy.
Would this kind of tour have seen the light of day if Steve Jobs was still alive? That is a question that has been debated at many levels. My guess is, probably not.
Three key takeaways to how Apple handled this simmering crisis:
1) While it was a difficult program to watch, Apple was able to position itself as the owner of the intellectual property while introducing FoxConn as the manufacturer.
2) Apple did well by inviting a respected program to tour its facility “no holds barred”; having a gaggle of media would not have been easily controlled.
3) Apple was available for this piece, their PR move of not granting any on camera interviews for the story (referring Bill Weir to statements made at an investors meeting) was risky but smart.
The news media story and third party audit of its Foxconn supplier is a good transparent move.