With the growing trend of iCrime—where iPods have become such a “must have” item that kids/teens are willing to beat the crap out of each other for them—a philosophical question has been raised. Do companies that have done TOO good a job of making their product the “latest and greatest” (Apple in this case) share some responsibility for any resulting “negative brand evangelism”?
In this situation, I tend to lean toward the “no” school of thought. To me, laying the blame at the feet of Apple is no better than when some lawyer tries to deflect responsibility by saying, “My client didn’t know what they were doing. They were drunk/high/stoned (insert external scapegoat here).”
Ultimately, people are responsible for their own actions. That’s not to say that media and advertising don’t affect what we choose to do and believe. Of course they affect us. Otherwise, what would be the purpose of most advertising? Why would advertising even exist, considering its main job is to skew and alter public thinking?
However, nothing excuses the actions of opportunists looking to make a buck or those who feel so inadequate that they think by owning the hottest “it” product, they’ll become cooler/faster/smarter/better (hmm…think I stole some of that from Kanye West. But don’t tell anyone!). They still have a choice. And if iPod didn’t become the “Apple” of their dollar sign/approval seeking eyes, then it would have been something else.
For example, why are Honda Accords and Civics so popular amongst discriminating car thieves?Including those who are looking to pump up these appealing, somewhat innocuous vehicles, into ‘roid raged, street racing machines? Is it because Honda did TOO good a job of touting them as the coolest cars for sporting your ground effects and peeling some illegal rubber? No. Certain people, for whatever reason, just chose to go this route on their own—probably based in part on the popularity of these vehicles and their reliability (things that Honda DOES advertise).
But admittedly, Honda did come up with a way to try and cope with this problem. They decided to be proactive—offering their customers an added sense of security by making car alarms standard on even their base models. I remember when my girlfriend and her husband bought their Accord a couple of years ago, the dealer actually made a point of this fact: explaining that Honda decided to add car alarms to all the Accord (and Civic) trims because of their somewhat nefarious popularity.
That being said, what can Apple do about this iCrime situation? Should they speak out about it (and say what, I wonder)? Should they change the white earbuds and detract from the identity of a brand they worked so hard to build? Perhaps. Or develop some sort of feature, such as a Biometric security device, that makes it virtually impossible for anyone other than the owner to use the iPod? Sure…but can you say “excessive”? And possibly very expensive?
Although the idea of a sophisticated security feature is not entirely out of the question (and, ironically, would probably increase the inherent value and popularity of the iPod), the fact is that we’ve become too much of a hand-holding, baby-sitter society as it is. Should every company then be expected to jump through invisible hoops to try and ensure that no possible harm ever befalls the users of their products? Should they have to anticipate any and all negative external factors over which they have absolutely no control and are not part of “regular use and operation”?
Perhaps it’s up to parents and kids to be more aware and to take their own measures to prevent possible threats. Get another pair of earbuds that aren’t a dead giveaway. Don’t allow the kids to wear their iPods to and from school. Whatever the plan of attack, in this case I think the burden of self-protection lies primarily with the consumer.
And as the old saying goes, “let the buyer beware”. I know it wasn’t necessarily meant the way I’m spinning it, but sometimes you just have to take responsibility for your own choices.
Bye for now,
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