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Apple completely loses the plot, revokes Computer Bild magazine accreditation over #bendgate video

Just when we thought that the whole #bendage thing was behind us, here comes Apple to reignite it all over again. The company has revoked the press accreditation of German magazine Computer Bild after it published a video of its editor-in-chief bending iPhone 6 Plus and then failing to do so with the Galaxy Note 3.

Now whether or not an €800 phone should bend like that or if you should apply such force to it is beyond the point here. What’s important is Apple’s reaction to the case.

Instead of issuing an official response or pointing to the video of the test facilities or the low number of complaints, the company chose to stop working with the media, ban it from all its events and deny it review units in the future. Now we’re fully aware that each and every manufacturer has the right to chose the media outlets it works with as you can’t simply fit everyone wanting to attend in even the biggest halls.

Yet if Apple is the true consumer-focused company it claims it is, those decisions should be based on how the consumers can get more info about their products. And banning a magazine that goes out in 9 countries and having a website among the first 2,500 in the world (regardless of genre) is going against that logic.

Here’s the open letter to Tim Cook that Computer Bild’s Editor-in-Chief published today.

Dear Mr. Tim Cook!

Just like anyone else who is obsessed with digital technology we have eagerly awaited the new iPhone. We felt relief when the head of our telecom department one day shouted “Here we go!”, presenting an invitation to the great event. And certainly we took a flight, went all the way to California, just to tell our readers every detail about the device that you and your company have worked on so hard for such a long time.

When the iPhone 6 Plus finally hit the market we noticed a few reports on a possible problem. According to them the case seemed to be weak, “bendable”, to drop the evil word. Being popular for our tests with utmost scrutiny, we could not leave the subject without comment. Of course that required further tests since testing new products without any prejudice is our obligation to our readers.

And so we bought an iPhone 6 Plus, just to find out whether it was a singular problem or some kind of hoax. The test was quite simple, so we could easily record it on video. Just to prove that what happens is nothing but the truth.

To be honest: We were shocked about how easy it was to bend the device. And so were around 200.000 viewers who watched the video up until now. We can imagine that you and your colleagues must have been shocked, too. This might have been the reason why we got a call from one of your German colleagues the next morning. He was upset, and it was a rather short conversation. “From now on”, he said, “you won’t get any devices for testing purposes and you will not be invited to Apple events in the future.”

Dear Mr. Cook: Is this really how your company wants to deal with media that provide your customers with profound tests of your products? Do you really think that a withdrawal of Apple’s love and affection could have an intimidating effect on us? Luckily we do not have to rely on devices that Apple provides us with. Luckily, a lot of readers are willing to pay money for our magazine to keep us independent. So we are able to buy devices to do our tests anyway. Even devices of manufacturers that seem to fear COMPUTER BILD’s independent judgment.

Even if we are quite dismayed about Apple’s reaction, we won’t give up our principles: We will continue our incorruptible tests that have the same high reputation in the German media-landscape as Apple has for its products. So far. We congratulate you to your fine new generation of iPhones, even if one of them has a minor weakness with its casing. But we are deeply disappointed about the lack of respect of your company.

Best regards,
Axel Telzerow
Editor in Chief COMPUTER BILD-Grou

Obviously Apple is very keen to only supply review units and grant event accreditation only to medias that are guaranteed to heap praise on its products and wouldn’t bother investigating any potential issues with it.

It becomes rather clear now why early iPhones and iPads reviews are always going out of their way to find all the positives about the device – most recently we learned that a camera that has only received minor updates for the past 4 years can be called the best in the world and that a size once laughed at is now perfect for everyday use.

And while we see how protecting its babies from critiques early on can help Apple boost its opening weekend sales (the ones it is so keen to brag about every year), it may cause some people to spend a rather large sum of money on a phone with problems they don’t know about and end up disappointed. And that’s not really the way to earn the kind of loyal customers like the ones Apple built its success on in the beginning of the decade.

Here’s the video that Apple deemed bad enough to warrant a ban for the whole media.


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