One way or another, people will talk to you

Although I use – and love – the iTunes/iPod combination, it bothers me how Apple continues to be opaque. At a time when a number of companies (including Microsoft, but not, I should add, Google) have made themselves more transparent by opening themselves up via blogging, Apple keeps everything close to their chest.

That’s their decision, of course, but it ignores the fact that customers will find ways to talk to you. For example, take a look at this screenshot from iTunes which shows how people are creating iMixes for the sole purpose of letting Apple know which bands they want added to iTunes.

Customers are subverting the iMix feature in order to provide feedback to Apple – feedback which wouldn’t even be necessary if Apple just let everyone know that they’d love to offer bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin on iTunes, but they’re still haggling over the details with the record companies and/or their lawyers.

One way or another, customers will talk to you (and if that fails, they’ll talk about you instead).

Update: In the comments for this post, Eric Dolecki points out that Apple has a request music form on their site.

8 thoughts on “One way or another, people will talk to you

  1. Review: iPod Shuffle

    I’ve bought myself an iPOd Shuffle finally after pondering about a couple of mobile players. This device is the second best thing after sex (ok a bit of exaggeration here) but it was really worth…

  2. Hello Joe, talk to the hand
    “Pete Blackshaw scripts an insightful mock conversation between a call center representative and a customer evangelist. The conversation may be fake but the links to company web pages are real. It shows how some companies say they want to hear from customers, but not really.”
    Attention? I Don’t Want Your Freakin’ Attention!
    “Joe Consumer: Knock knock.
    Consumer Relations: Who’s there?
    Joe Consumer: Joe Consumer. I have feedback!
    Consumer Relations: Have you checked our FAQ?”

  3. Eric, I wasn’t aware of that feedback form, and I obviously should’ve done a better search of Apple’s site before posting this. That said, though, why do you think so many people are still using iMixes for this purpose? And is there an “official” Apple blog?

  4. Nick, this raises a question that may be a bit sensitive around these parts: are blogs the be-all and end-all?
    I don’t think they are. Whilst they are useful, they are a recent form of communication, and blogs with feedback ability are even more so.
    What I’m trying to say is: how would a blog help? Yes, it would be a visible feedback thread, but would it really help Apple?
    There are the Apple forums and feedback forms as previously mentioned. There are also official mailing lists Apple run, albeit not one for iTunes or the ITMS.
    I know Dave Hyatt ran a Safari blog and that was pretty tricky for him to keep on topic. I think he relied on trackbacks rather than comments except when absolutely necessary.
    Though I don’t have a blog so I couldn’t trackback.

  5. Sadly, this seems to be pretty typical of web users. They’d rather find their own methods of expression, especially if they deem it “easier”, rather than using the means provided by the site’s authors. I think that there’s a lesson in here somewhere about people feelings about web forms (“no one at the company actually READS them do they?” attitude), usability (you didn’t even find the thing at first did you?), and control of the system (who gets to clean up when/if those bands actually show up).

  6. Matt, that’s certainly not a sensitive question – it’s a good one, in fact. I don’t think that blogs are “the be-all and end-all,” but I do find that I think more positively about companies that blog, even in times of trouble. I also have a better opinion of companies that let me get a glimpse of the actual human beings behind the scenes.
    I think Six Apart is a good example of this. They have a blog which lets me check the status of TypePad, and they also have blogged about the people who work there.
    Sometimes TypePad’s control panel gets slow, and if they didn’t have a blog which let me know they’re working on the solution, I’d probably get a lot more pissed by the slowdown. And if I didn’t think about the real live people doing the work, I might be more inclined to speak ill of them.

  7. Favorite New Word: Opaque

    Rex Hammock pointed the way to Nick Bradbury calling Apple ‘opaque’. I like that word. It’s a good contrast to ‘transparency’. Which is not my favorite word….

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