One of the most talked-about PR crises in the technology industry involved a faulty Pentium chip at a time when few consumers knew the difference between an Intel 286 and a Motorola 68020. It took many arduous weeks, and a wake-up call from the late CNN tech reporter Steve Young, to get Intel CEO Andy Grove to capitulate and agree to freely replace (at considerable cost to the company) the faulty chip — no questions asked. (The replacement cost paled in comparison to the drop in the company’s market cap given the precipitous hit its share price took during the crisis.)
Today’s news that Apple has agreed to extend warranties and issue credits to consumers who had battery problems with older versions of the iPod digital music player is the right thing to do. Up to 2 million iPod owners are affected.
The PR (and legal) decision by Apple is reported to have resulted under the threat of a class action lawsuit. I wonder if there had not been a legal action whether Apple would have done the right thing. The company certainly had its share of consumer complaints…and quick fixes to resolve them.
Given the lessons of the Pentium and recognition of preserving the esteem of its mega-brand, I suspect the company would have moved in favor of its consumers regardless. The question is: how quickly?