Questions and answers – fun with Apple

Apple makes great stuff, and it has great staff. And the comprehensive press releases that come out mean our Australian Apple employees have to get up really early to send us those detailed drafts we so love.

But in case you're wondering why, between times, I continuously pore through the entrails of any information that could pertain to Apple in any way (no mean feat – I don't eat meat) and why I continuously descend to reading tealeaves (and I really don't like tea, either), here are a few examples of why.

Steve Jobs was famously terse, but hey, at least he actually answered a few emails. we know, because whenever he did, it was widely reported, and it may be assumed he received far more than he replied to, as he no doubt had an obvious Apple email address anyone could work out.

for example, one emailer asked whether the forthcoming iPad would support 'tethering' to an iPhone, which would allow customers to use the iPhone as a modem for their iPad. The answer was "no."

In response to a customer who wrote to express his disappointment that Apple has not updated its MacBook Pro and Mac Pro range of computers for a while, Jobs replied "Not to worry."

Replying to John Devor, whose company, The Little App Factory, made a product called iPodRip. Apple’s lawyers asked him to stop using iPod in the name of his app because it was (is) an Apple trademark.

The reply was positively verbose, for Jobs: "Change your app's name. Not that big of a deal."

iPodRip is now called iRip.

But I think that no frills – OK, 'terse' – communication method must have become doctrine. Actually, I think Apple has a stock of pat answers to cover every occasion. almost. perhaps company representatives sift through an A4 page of terse replies verging on disinformation and choose one that's appropriate – or not, as the case may be. In fact, I almost suspect no humans are involved – something detects a question mark in an incoming email, and a terse reply is picked at random and fired back.

here are some examples.

I asked Apple where the iCloud servers were for new Zealanders, wondering where our information was being kept – the US Apple Data Centre? On a server farm in Australia? Maybe even somewhere in new Zealand?

I got: "Hey mark. Apple does not comment on internal structures.Thanks."

I was recently asked to demonstrate the iPad at an expo in Auckland for the delectation of more elderly citizens. for free. Fine, I do a lot of things for free, but I wondered why I should promote a device I had to buy, for the benefit of companies that would sell them, and for the eventual benefit of Apple?

so I let Apple know that I thought a NZ reseller should be doing stuff like this, and to let them know of the kind of requests I get, which I thought their local representatives should be sorting out, one way or another.

This is what I got by way of reply:

"This isn't something we will support."

Apart from being terse, that missed the point entirely. I cheekily emailed back "Right. has Apple actually ever supported anything?"

there was no answer to that one.

(To be fair, one of Apple's local NZ representatives did actually take action on this.)

But that's the same comment I got from Apple Australia's – and hence new Zealand's – 'Marketing Director'. He's actually the top guy, as far as I can tell. I offered to fly to Sydney to explain what a forthcoming Auckland tech conference was about. He replied something to the tune of 'This isn't something we would support'.

That was hardly the point, mate. Anyone with any dealings with Apple knows that there isn't much, if anything, Apple will support – not publicly, anyway. And certainly not that I'd ever know about.

I have heard rumours – which I cannot confirm – that certain luminaries (if you can justify that term for actors and pop stars) get fitted out with Apple gear – but that they aren't allowed to talk about it.

even here.

In January this year, Apple advertised a role in new Zealand, for a retail marketing programs manager to drive and maintain relationships with its "carriers, retailers and resellers".

The position required a person who would "leverage and localise US materials, retail marketing programs and concepts for use in-store across Australia and new Zealand".

Of course this got people excited. Was Apple expanding operations here? Filling a vacated position? Moving towards a new Zealand Apple Store? What?

there were queries – but Apple refused to confirm if the position had been filled (it was, I ascertained through other means). And Apple also stayed silent about possible future channel hires.

CRN reported that Apple's response was "we don't discuss current or future head count or roles and responsibilities other than what we describe in the job posting when recruiting staff".

Twenty-four words! That's virtually War and Peace. That's Dantéesque, that is!

so I, and thousands of other interested journalists and commentators, have to put up with getting exactly the information Apple wants me to get. And that's it.

Apple staff – and the ones I've met do seem extremely nice, and well informed, and oh-so careful – have to put up with my snarky comments, my resentment, and my sometimes wild punts about what exactly Apple is up to, which could be very wide of the mark.