Computer Bild is one of Europe’s biggest tech publications. It’s also responsible for a #bendgate or, as they call it, “bentgate” iPhone 6 video that’s been viewed more than half a million times over the past week.
Apple’s response to the video yesterday confirmed everything our inside source told us about their PR practices in September: the company revoked the magazine’s accreditation.
Here’s the video, which is really not as bad as the one everybody passed around when the phone first launched:
It’s in German, but you can see from the screenshot below that the folks at Bild were able to slightly bend the phone with considerable effort.
So no more testing devices and no more event invites for Bild. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone because, as our source told us:
“Sometimes PR is asked to blacklist someone who wrote something negative, which is a very stupid idea — if someone is complaining about your company, you should pay more attention to them. But that never happens.”
And that’s exactly what went down here. It’s true that, as 9t05Mac notes, “…a ridiculous amount of force is used. Apply that much force to most phones and you’re going to damage them.” And of course we get why Apple would be slightly annoyed to see someone testing its products directly against those of a competitor.
But this is more of the usual “shoot the messenger” strategy from a PR department determined to squash certain dissenting voices — even those with which it has an established relationship. Looks like all the talk of Tim Cook’s “friendlier” company only applies in select circumstances.
The mag’s editor in chief Axel Telzerow wasn’t happy, so he wrote an open letter to Cook (emphasis ours):
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 judgement.
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.
Editor in Chief COMPUTER BILD-Group
Something tells us Cook and everyone in Apple PR will politely ignore this letter.
Nothing to see here…