Saturday, September 18, 2010

Steve Jobs Briefly Speaks Out


Oh, Steve Jobs. I never know whether I should love you or loathe you. It's usually a little bit of both. And it doesn't really sway much in one direction or the other. There are equal amounts in each part of both love and hate that I feel for you. The email exchange that you had with a senior at Long Island University exemplifies these feelings, though I think I end up a little more on the love side this time.

According to the gawking folks over there at Gawker, a Long Island University senior, a one 22-year old Chelsea Kate Isaacs, had been given an assignment by her journalism professor to cover the university's plan to give all incoming students an iPad. She "...wanted to get a quote from Apple about the use of iPads in academic settings". That seems fairly reasonable. So she called Apple's PR department six times and left six messages and got zero responses. For some reason, that seems to have surprised her.

I don't know what Apple's reason for not returning her calls was, but I'm guessing it has something to do with them being fairly busy. Aside from that, I'm sure that she could scour the Innerwebs and find a quote from Apple about how wonderful they think their iPads are and how they will be immensely valuable in a scholastic setting. In fact, I'm positive she could find their take on it somewhere out there. If there's one thing that Apple can do well, it's speak highly of themselves.

Ms. Isaacs then decided that she would just email the man himself, so she sent an email off to Steve Jobs. Part of the email that she sent included the following sentence: "Mr. Jobs, I humbly ask why Apple is so wonderfully attentive to the needs of students, whether it be with the latest, greatest invention or the company's helpful customer service line, and yet, ironically, the Media Relations Department fails to answer any of my questions which are, as I have repeatedly told them, essential to my academic performance." Good God. And I thought that I was wordy.

That was one sentence. And really? She repeatedly told them that answering her question was "essential" to her academic performance? Not good. She's going to need to learn a little bit about how to phrase things when she's annoyed. What do they care if she gets a good grade or not? Does she have an iPod? That's good enough for them.

And it turns out, Steve Jobs didn't give a fat rat's ass about her grade. And he let her know it. In his reply, which was about one-tenth the length of the sentence above, he wrote, "Our goals do not include helping you get a good grade. Sorry". Guess what? She didn't like that very much. I, on the other hand, liked it very much.

So, having not learned anything about brevity, she responded to Steve Jobs with: "I never said that your goal should be to "help me get a good grade." Rather, I politely asked why your media relations team does not respond to emails, which consequently, decreases my chances of getting a good grade. But, forget about my individual situation; what about common courtesy, in general —- if you get a message from a client or customer, as an employee, isn't it your job to return the call? That's what I always thought. But I guess that's not one of your goals." Wow. She's a talker, that one. Gotta mouth like a motorboat. But which one is it, cupcake? Emails or phone calls? Clearly, your emails are being responded to, by Steve Jobs no less!

And he continued to respond by explaining the realistic nature of the situation over there at Apple when he told her, "Nope. We have over 300 million users and we can't respond to their requests unless they involve a problem of some kind. Sorry." It's just not possible. The mathematics are not such that they can tend to every individual who wants a quote that they can find on the Internet. But do you think that was good enough for her? Hardly. So what do you think that she did? She wrote him another lengthy response, that is correct. She told him, "You're absolutely right, and I do meet your criteria for being a customer who deserves a response: 1. I AM one of your 300 million users. 2. I DO have a problem; I need answers that only Apple Media Relations can answer. Now, can they kindly respond to my request (my polite and friendly voice can be heard in the first 5 or 10 messages in their inbox). Please, I am on deadline." For cryin' out loud.

Perhaps he should have told this simpleton that when he says "a problem of some kind", he means a problem with a freaking Apple product. Not a problem in general. It's not a suicide hotline or anything like that. But she might want to find one after his final response to her. It was short. It was direct. It was kind of all sorts of awesome. It read: "Please leave us alone."

I don't think that this has anything to do with him being Steve Jobs and thinking that he's better than everyone else (regardless as to whether or not he really does think that, which I'm guessing that he does on occasion). I think it has to do with her not understanding how the real world works and how it's not something that a company with 300 million users can be bothered with. I can only imagine how self-important her voicemail messages that she left were. No wonder he asked her to leave them alone. Besides, what's she going to do? Buy a Zune?

If you'd like to read the initial email that Ms. Isaacs sent to Mr. Jobs, you can do so at the link that I provided to Gawker above. It's lengthy. It's self-important. It makes it clear that she has a deadline. And from how it reads, it seems to indicate she might want to spend just a little more time in those journalism classes. She gets a little muddled toward the end. Hey, I'm just saying! Look, I'm far from a professional journalist, but at least I don't expect the world to bow down to me because I possess fairly adept typing skills and an Internet connection.

I'd also like to mention how incredibly happy it made me to be able to write a post where I could use several "vintage" pictures of Mr. Jobs and of Apple products. It's awesome. It's really hard to squeeze things like that into posts about moronic politicians and stories about things going awry when they involve a penis.

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