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Apple and the art of crisis management
February 9, 2017

The brand took Note, apparently

There’s trouble in the air when you have batteries overheating, and devices switching off even at 60%. In late November, the China Consumer Association brought up the issue of possibly damaged iPhone 6 and 6S devices, which were randomly shutting down.

On the basis of what we saw happen to Samsung, this could have been the start of a PR nightmare for Apple.

Consider how Samsung reacted during the Note 7 debacle. The company started 2016 on a massive footing, with very positive vibes for the Note 7. Post reports of the device catching fire, the Korean company decided to take a most ill-advised public relations stand: the quiet one. The end result was aggressively negative media coverage, outright bans on the device [signs about the Note 7 ban are still in place at many airports including T3 Dubai], and a total shutdown of communication with the media. Post general panic among users, they very slowly introduced a device exchange program which proved poorly managed. Most retailers here, for instance refused to give full refunds on the device, instead issuing vouchers to buy Samsung devices. Admittedly, a communication exercise awfully off track.

So Apple could have gone precisely the same, chaotic path.


Except they didn’t. Post the notice by the China Consumer Association, Apple announced its battery replacement program globally on November 30. They then worked together with authorities in different countries on this.In the UAE, Apple announced that they would be replacing defective batteries in 88,770 iPhone 6s’s that were causing unexpected shutdowns. An exercise carried out in conjunction with the UAE Ministry of Economy, the brand was clear in its communication that only specific phones that contained the defective battery manufactured between September and October 2015 in China will be recalled. Working in line with the Consumer Protection Department at the ministry, customers were given a link where they could input the serial numbers and check if their devices were at risk, or they could visit customer service centres.

There are a lot of things Apple could have done wrong in this scenario, including taking the “don’t worry, people will soon forget about this” approach that Samsung initially took.

Apple took the issue head-on, admitted an issue with the said devices, ensured respective government authorities were brought on board and gave consumers a reference point in case they wanted to know if their devices were at risk.

This near-crisis? A total Win-Win for Apple.

by Anil George

Avid follower of all things tech. In between his quest for the ultimate gizmo, Anil fiddles with light meters, collects rare books and feeds his fetish for Jap horror movies. As Managing Editor of T3 Middle East for the GCC, Anil oversees content direction across print and digital. He was a CES 2017 Innovation Awards Judge, reprising his role as an Innovation Awards Judge at CES 2015 and 2016. Anil is also the Middle East’s first Brand Ambassador for Ashdown Engineering.  Reach him at: