Apple’s white iPhone 4 won’t be available until the spring, the company announced recently. With that announcement, Apple has now delayed the device three times. And there is some speculation that it could continue to see manufacturing “challenges” persist into next year, causing yet another delay of the smartphone.
As Apple continues to delay the device, some are wondering why the company won’t simply admit that the product isn’t worth developing and cut its losses, rather than suffer the embarrassment of delaying it for another time. Of course, the reason why is simple: Apple doesn’t want to admit defeat. It doesn’t want to tell the rest of the world that it couldn’t follow through on a promise.
That’s a common response from Apple, one that has helped define the company.
Here are the reasons why Apple hates to admit defeat.
1. It’s Steve Jobs’ focus
Steve Jobs is an interesting person. He might be viewed as one of the most successful CEOs in the technology industry, but his ego is well-known in that space. The very thought of admitting that he wasn’t able to deliver something that he promised is something that would make this executive cringe. Simply put, retreating is not something Steve Jobs considers. As long as he is at the company, Apple will never admit defeat.
2. Apple rarely needs to admit defeat
When someone objectively views the mistakes Apple has made in the past, he quickly comes to the conclusion that the mistakes are few and far between. For the most part, Apple has an impressive track record of delivering products that work as the company said they would. As a result, Apple hasn’t often had the experience of admitting defeat or apologizing for mistakes.
3. It knows consumers don’t care
Although consumers might not like when a product doesn’t work right or the device they’ve been promised gets delayed, Apple fully understands that those complaints typically fade away quickly and are soon forgotten. That was especially evident when the iPhone 4’s antenna woes became big news, but quickly fell from headlines as consumers stopped caring so much. Throughout that ordeal, Apple still sold millions of iPhones.
4. Its fan base
One of the luxuries Apple enjoys is a cultlike following. Apple’s fans are true to the company until the end. They will tenaciously defend it against criticism. So, when complaints break out or Apple makes a mistake, it’s easy for the company to lean on its following to gloss over its mistakes.
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5. It’s not alone
It’s important to note that Apple isn’t the only company that makes mistakes in the tech space. And it isn’t the only company in the industry that hates to admit mistakes. It’s probably more apt to say that Apple makes far fewer mistakes than the vast majority of companies in the IT industry. In that light, why should Apple feel the need to admit defeat or apologize when it makes a mistake? If the rest of the companies in the industry are against admitting defeat, Apple should be too.
6. The degree of the issue matters
A manufacturing issue is probably enough for Apple to want to admit defeat. After all, if a company can’t produce a product with the right quality, there isn’t much Apple can do to fix that. But in other cases where issues aren’t so major, maybe Apple is right to not want to admit defeat. Something might not have worked out as well as the company would have liked, but it still worked to a degree that it was comfortable with. Simply put, the smaller the issue, the lesser the justification for Apple admitting defeat.
7. It makes up for it elsewhere
Apple isn’t a company that likes to admit when it’s wrong or apologize for issues, but it has a knack for making up for those problems elsewhere. The company’s Apple TV, for example, might not be the best set-top box on the market, but with a $99 price tag, it’s an awfully attractive product for customers on a budget. Apple walks a fine line between making mistakes and making people forget about those issues by compensating for them elsewhere. And that has helped the company minimize times when it actually needs to admit defeat.
8. The corporate culture doesn’t mix with defeat
Apple’s corporate culture, which has been largely determined by Steve Jobs, doesn’t fit well with an admission of defeat. Time and again, Apple has proved that it believes it’s better than the competition. Whether or not that’s true is up for debate. But as long as Apple believes that, the company will keep rebuffing any requests to admit it’s wrong.
9. It’s always looking ahead
Part of the reason Apple won’t admit defeat is its incessant desire to look ahead, rather than behind. If it delivers a product that doesn’t work as well as it should, the company simply betters it in the next iteration. It has consciously decided that rather than accept a loss, it needs to find a way to overcome the defeat. It’s an interesting tack, and it’s one that has helped the company become so successful.
10. It would rather fix the problem
Whenever Apple is presented with a potential issue that it doesn’t want to admit defeat on, the company typically fixes it. That was especially true with the iPhone 4’s antenna problem. Rather than simply admit that the device has issues, Steve Jobs showed other products suffering from the same problem. He then announced that Apple would offer free cases to customers suffering from the issue. It was a smart move. And it’s one that Apple likes to make whenever it doesn’t want to admit defeat against the critics.