WEB & TECH / OCT. 05, 2014
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What We Can Learn From the iPhone Bendgate Scandal

It’s the most sought after smartphone device of the year, praised for its sleek design, screen quality and an entire array of tech-advancements. The iPhone 6 Plus is Apple’s latest attempt to tighten its grip on the smartphone device market, the release of this must-have device sparked a consumer frenzy as excited consumers waited outside stores for days on end to get their hands on it. It appeared that Apple had managed to pull off yet another successful product launch. But appearances can be deceiving.

It didn’t take long for some of Apple’s eagle-eyed consumers to notice a slight glitch with their devices. Some purchasers began to claim that the phones would bend when placed in their pockets.

Apple claims it sold 10 million devices within three days of release, however, despite record sales and an elaborate advertising campaign to support the release of the phone - it looks like Apple wasn’t prepared for what many are calling the “Bendgate” scandal.

This is no ordinary scandal. It has generated its own Twitter hashtag and of course, a steady stream of YouTube video’s with the most infamous video belonging to Squarespace which shows Unbox Therapy’s host Lewis Hilsenteger literally bending a iPhone 6 Plus phone with his hands. If you watch this video closely, the phone does indeed appear to bend under pressure which explains why early buyers of the device complained about the phone’s additional bending qualities. This video is at the heart of the Bendgate scandal and it has also fuelled controversy for Apple. The notions of consumer trust, brand awareness and how easy it is to fall from grace in the eyes of the consumer is all down to this video.

Now, with Apple denying the claims and rumours muddying the device the company has found itself in a very uncomfortable and embarrassing position. With Apple’s rivals ridiculing the tech-giant for this faux pas which could all be justified if there wasn’t so much scepticism surrounding Bendgate (and this video) in the first place, there are lessons to be learned here from both a consumer’s and business owner’s perspective.

If the phones do indeed bend (so far, there is no legitimate evidence of this,) but let’s say that they do for the sake of this article. For consumers, Apple is a house-hold name, its bold and often flashy products promise to technologically enrich consumer’s lives which makes them irresistible. Consumers are so accustomed to Apple’s branding that parting ways with hundreds of pounds just to get their hands on Apple’s newest device doesn’t faze them. This is a testament to Apple’s powerful brand awareness. Bendgate has taught consumers to be more vigilant when it comes to their purchasing habits and to question businesses in the face of what could be a major manufacturing failure.

Now from a business owner’s perspective, this scandal demonstrates that the consumer business relationship is quite fragile, CRM (customer relationship management) is very important. Apple has so far managed to down play this sandal rather well, citing no issue with phones and that despite the media hype only a few consumers have come forward to make a formal complaint. Apple’s actions show that they value their customers enough to address any issues they have with their products.

It is clear that this scandal is not going away anytime soon, as the tech industry literally holds its breath anticipating the next Bendgate related headline and with clothing companies scrambling to exploit an already touchy situation for Apple, only time will tell if this will all blow over or remain in a thorn in Apple’s side for the foreseeable future.

 

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