Apple Damage Control Strategy: Blame Josh

Its appleAfter all the news and the pseudo-news and the record-breaking brand tweets, Apple finally responded to “bendgate” yesterday.

In many ways, the company’s actions show how far its strategy has moved away from the “take no prisoners” approach that an inside source described to us earlier this month. In that interview, the contact told us that the Apple of the past would never comment directly on anything. Yet he also noted that Tim Cook wants to “put a friendlier face on Apple”, and the company’s most recent moves seem to confirm that fact.

First, Apple release an official statement saying, effectively:

“Yes, a phone was bent, but it only happened to nine people (out of ten million).”

Apple even went further than that, inviting CBS to tour its previously super-secret iPhone testing facility to underscore the fact that everyone really needs to calm the hell down. The company even had some online brand advocates happy to let everyone else know that the “bend test” video you’ve all been passing around was a conspiracy dreamed up by a full-time hater.

Yesterday  brought a Bloomberg article that seemed to lay the blame for Apple’s performance issues at the feet of a single, unfortunate person. His name is Josh.

We counted ten mentions of the the guy’s name in the post, but some people who might know something about the matter suggested that “people familiar with Apple’s management” were playing the scapegoat game:

Strong words from a former Google project manager. (Williams is “director overseeing quality assurance for Apple’s iOS mobile-software group”. Did you know he was also in charge of Apple Maps?)

“Williams was removed from the maps team after the software gave unreliable directions and mislabeled landmarks, though he remained in charge of iOS testing, said one person, who asked not to be identified since the information isn’t public.”

Wonder who that person was. Apple’s operations look a little less militant now than in the past. Remember this key quote from our earlier interview?

“You have to be able to control the journalist and prevent them from asking really hard questions.”

Our source was referring to head of marketing Phil Schiller, or the very guy who sat down with CNBC yesterday. Looks like a strategic shift. We haven’t even mentioned the new iOS and iPhone bug update because we were too busy feeling bad for Josh (who undoubtedly does bear some responsibility for the iPhone failures, but come on).

Here’s the CNBC clip in case you missed it.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.