Many people felt Apple was being unreasonable when the company refused to give the FBI access to one of the San Bernardino shooters' iPhones in February; Apple claimed such disregard for customer privacy would set a bad, dangerous precedent (despite the fact that it had unlocked iPhones 70 times prior to this incident).
The public did not see it the same way and the backlash was swift—a Pew Research poll found that 51 percent of people believed Apple needed to comply with FBI demands and unlock the iPhone.
A new Supreme Court ruling has further exacerbated Apple’s PR problem—the Court “rejected an appeal filed by Apple to overturn a stinging ruling that it led a broad conspiracy with several major publishers to fix the price of e-books sold through its online bookstore,” according to Mashable.
This means Apple will be forced to pay “$400 million to consumers and an additional $50 million in legal fees.”
Apple generates $79.5 billion in sales each year, so the actual monetary value of this payout is not the issue—the problem lies in the way customers will view this brand that prides itself on being extremely consumer-friendly.
The ruling looks pretty terrible for Apple. Apparently, the company (when Steve Jobs was leading it in 2009) conspired with the top five publishing companies to fix e-book prices, rejecting Amazon’s model of a flat rate of $9.99 per e-book—“ Jobs personally persuaded publishing industry executives to re-think the flat $9.99 e-book pricing previously imposed by Amazon, then (and now) the giant of the e-book world.”
“While some in the publishing industry argued this move helped break up Amazon's potential monopoly on the market, the U.S. government accused Apple and the five publishers of colluding to keep prices high,” Mashable notes. Amazon ultimately changed the way it priced books, too, thanks to Apple, and perhaps not for the better.
Apple maintains there was no wrongdoing in its price-fixing, yet the Supreme Court—and the public—see otherwise. Their growing PR problem does not appear to have a solution anytime soon.
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