Group FaceTime

Looking at what has gone on this week with the group FaceTime bug, Apple’s culture and the way it communicates with the outside world was in focus again. Apple have traditionally been cautious about giving out information- to the press and to customers.

Apple Newsroom PR statements are always refined, minimalist but accurate. This works in relation to new products but on this occasion they were slow to speak and took actions that at time were left unexplained. For example, the company disabled the new Group FaceTime feature but didn’t make a public announcement. Their system status page showed that the service was down and the first public statement came out today.

In principle, this was the right thing to do- act quickly and do the talking later. But it was hard for customers to know what was right. Was disabling Group FaceTime the solution? Were we safe with it disabled? From Apple’s point of view, they did not want to make statements which they would later have to change. Instead they sealed off the problem, investigated, and then released a reflective response on what was found, laying out their plans (software update coming next week).

But having a minimalist approach to PR and public information does leave users questioning, what next? And for a period of time this week, we were in the dark about how bad this bug was and what action we should be taking. This void was being filled by advice on Twitter whereas there should have been better information from the company themselves.