Tag Archives: Dammage Control

Lies, Damn Lies, and Bugs

Apple is the world’s most valuable technology company – $ 322 billion as of this writing. Despite threats, ranging from parts shortages to the health of its leader, it has had quite a run. It has done this by bucking conventional wisdom and marketing practices.

Apple doesn’t blog, tweet, have a Facebook page, issue forecasts, and in general refuses to announce what it is going to do. Its news releases have been invariably about what has already happened and regularly declines to comment on where it’s going.

Being secretive has served Apple well. It increases interest and reduces promotional expense. Yet there are times when stone walling won’t cut it. One of these is the recent revelation that its products such as iPhones and iPads have been storing users’ locations in a database. Moreover, contrary to Apple’s previous assurances, location information is collected even when the user has turned off location services.

After waiting a week, Apple attributed the persistent storage of location information to a “bug.” It then released a Q and A on its use of location data, which was neither clear nor reassuring.

“Bugs” typically refer to errors in design or code such that the system does not work as intended or has undesired side effects. One or even a series of bugs do not cause a database to be created and transmitted, so the explanation is unconvincing.

When I was in the software biz, use of the term “bug” – the B-word as it was euphemized – was taboo. Often it serves as an epithet – as when Apple declined to support Adobe Flash on its iPhone and iPad because they claimed it’s “buggy.”

Apparently, when caught with its corporate knickers down, Apple punted not with an apology but a self-deprecating, we too have bugs. This not only failed to alleviate privacy concerns, but was eerily familiar of another denial. The infamous “it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”

I’m shocked, shocked …