Does Apple really understand its consumers?

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Today was a big day for Apple fans. There was good news and bad news for die-hards. New iPods and a $200 price cut to the iPhone. I own a soon-to-be-discontinued 4GB phone which either makes me a bit of a loser or owner of something highly collectible. Well, maybe not.

There is some speculation of a rebate but what I’ve read most recently is that it’s only for those who purchased one in the last 14 days. If this is the case, what are they thinking? Wouldn’t they be prepared for consumer outrage? Especially when their most loyal and dedicated customers camp out, line up and fork out hundreds of dollars for a now over-priced product. Wow.

Apple has been riding high but I fear they may be in for a bit of a fall. My biggest concern in all of the fall-out though is they seem to be attempting to censor the customer response. People that are trying to express their dissatisfaction and call for a rebate are having their confidence. People could take the dialogue elsewhere which makes it more difficult for Apple to gauge consumer opinion and feedback.

The larger question this raises though is do they care? I think this is the biggest outcome of today’s immediate announcement. People in the forums are indicating that Apple retail stores were unaware of the price cut (bad internal communication) and call center reps seem to be quite pompous. I personally have not followed up so this is only what I’ve read, but if Apple doesn’t manage this well it could have a significant effect on how well they’ll do in the long run.

Update: Within the time I started writing this post, the story has changed. According to Everything iPhone, a rebate may be in the works from Apple. Here’s a classic quote though, supposedly from Mark Miller of Apple, posted on Everything iPhone. “Right now we’re reviewing the overwhelming response of the iPhone’s price cut, and had no idea it would result in over powering the news of our new iPod family, thus tarnishing this memorable day.

[tags] iphone, apple, customer service [/tags]