Peter VanRysdam / Digital Marketing / October 29th, 2007

Apple Deserves a Time Out for Bad Behavior

This is how Kanye West would put it: “Steve Jobs Hates Children.”

Sure, it’s a broad stroke, and not at all true.  Kanye didn’t even say it, but I’m expecting he will any day now at an unrelated telethon.  Keep in mind that Kanye is not an intellectual or a politician.  He’s a rapper. 

But after reading an article today that my friend Lincoln forwarded me, I’m tempted to agree with Kanye’s fictional commentary. 

A little girl newly armed with the knowledge of how to write a business letter wrote to Steve Jobs, the Apple CEO, with some suggestions for ways to improve the ipod nano.  After several weeks, she received a cease and desist letter from apple, stating they don’t accept unsolicited product suggestions.  Apparently the publics schools should teach patent law before letter writing…or the alphabet for that matter.

One of our cynical employees pointed out that apple is protecting itself from someone mailing in an idea and then suing if the idea is added to a product (regardless of whether apple already planned to implement it).  Sure, that makes sense, but I’ve got two main problems with that approach. 

Number 1, you can’t treat everything the same.  Some pencil pusher in legal needed to take a moment and recognize where the letter was coming from, and to make a decision to handle it with kid gloves (and btw, you can save up to 46% on kid’s gloves here). 

Second, though I’m not a lawyer and sadly apples approach is likely correct from a liability perspective, I think free ideas should be embraced by any business.  If someone wants to profit from an idea, they patent it before bringing it to the table for sale to apple (or its competitors).  If someone says “make this button bigger,” it should be accepted and held as very important.  Think of how many people think the same thing and don’t take the time to write it down.  This is probably a great suggestion to make the product better, and should be sent to R&D rather than legal.

On an unrelated note, I filled out an online survey from Red Roof Inn today after staying at one by the airport last week.  I suggested they add shampoo and conditioner to the room (only room I’ve ever seen without it).  If this policy is enacted, I expect a 10% revenue share from the boost to their revenues.