The cell phone manufacturer opens the gates of its Asian supplier, Foxconn, to a camera team. At first glance, it is a novelty; at second glance, a clear PR maneuver.
It almost appears that the media coverage has borne fruit, and the relatively closed Apple firm would become a little more transparent. But only almost. It has been three weeks since the New York Times reported on the catastrophic working conditions at Foxconn, an Apple supplier. Now the manufacturer of trendy gadgets like the iPhone and iPod is venturing out of the defensive and is opening the gates of a production site of its supplier in Shenzhen, China to a camera team from ABC, an American TV channel.
At first look, it is a remarkable novelty for Apple. After all, the computer and software manufacturer is not exactly known for its open dealings with the media, but instead for exercising an almost neurotic control over every word that leaves the company.
Who would be surprised? After all, the Silicon Valley firm’s recipe for success is based upon producing a quite particular attitude toward life along with its attractive, reliable and user-friendly devices: Anyone who uses an Apple product is somehow more relaxed, more creative, more intelligent and much more far-sighted than others. It is a very fragile image that can only be permanently sustained if the firm steers its communication with the outside world extremely delicately.
And Apple is doing exactly that in this case, too, as a second look reveals. The ABC broadcast station belongs to the Disney Company; the Disney Company in turn partially belongs to the wife of Steve Jobs, the late Apple founder. A certain bias is by all means to be expected from the reporting camera team. And so, in the final analysis, Apple remains true to its dogma of secrecy. True transparency looks different. In this case, at most, the PR maneuver is transparent.