Apple, Making Friends From Foes

When the iPhone first released on June 29, 2007 there were lines of people in Mac stores across America waiting to be the first to pay $599—to touch its magical screen and make a phone call to a friend and scream “I got an iPhone!”

And there was another kind of person in those lines. This person could not wait to grab an iPhone, run home, and void their warranty immediately. Hundreds of developers, hackers, and power users were first in line to get their hands on an iPhone and start unlocking its full potential.

Since the first release of the iPhone people have been “jail breaking” and “unlocking” their iPhones by the hundreds of thousands. An iPhone that is “Jailbroken” can allow third party programs to be installed, such as games, karaokie machines, tip calculators, programming tools, and even a pretty stunning simulation of a guitar that could be played on the iPhone.

Other unique features of “unlocking” the iPhone include the ability to change settings in the phone, such as background images, sounds, and even the available service carrier.

In 2007 At a London Apple retail store where Jobs announced the iPhone’s Nov. 9 U.K. debut, He responded to a question about whether Apple would put a stop to the unlocking hacks that have mushroomed recently. “It’s a cat-and-mouse game,” said Jobs. “We try to stay ahead. People will try to break in, and it’s our job to stop them breaking in.”

When Apple first learned of the hack they released an update that would render “unlocked” iPhones useless, turning them into very expensive paperweights.

The hacking community did not stay still; within a day they had already found a way around the new update and hacked iPhones were working again. With every update that Apple has released, the community has found a way to continue to get the perks from Apple’s update while having their phones unlocked.

So what is Apple to do in a situation like this? Here is G4tv showing us one solution.

What Apple has done to help solve this problem is genius. The company decided to apply the Cult Branding golden rule of freedom and embraced their enemy.

Apple announced that they were releasing their SDK (Software Development Kit) to the public for free. But they went a step further too: Developers will receive 70% of the sale from their applications for the iPhone sold through the iTunes stores. Seventy percent represented an unprecedented earnings share and demonstrated a clear alliance with the hacker and development community. By being so generous with the developers Apple is extending their hand to all, they are helping to ensure the iPhone spot as the best handheld computer in the world.

With the release of the 3G iPhone, Apple is allowing the phone to be used in over 70 different countries, and eventually in the U.S with a different carrier other than AT&T. With over 1 million 3G iPhones sold on opening weekend and 70% of all sales, developers are starting to forget their hacking days and welcoming Apple as a new ally.

Of course there will always be the hardcore users who will never conform, but Apple’s strategy has helped them gain the trust and assistance of genius developers around the world. With this new addition to the iPhone developing team, the possibilities for the iPhone and its community are endless.

Apple has turned an enemy into a friend with a generous offer that seems too good to be true by industry standards. Apple is embracing the community that loves their product and all it has to offer. Instead of engaging in an endless battle with developers, Apple has opened the door to them.

There may be times when you might feel consumers are sabotaging your brand. You cringe at the thought of someone tainting your beautiful creation. Fear not. Make a friend out of a foe. Transform a saboteur into a brand evangelist.

Keep an open mind. Be ready to embrace change. Allow your best customers to co-create the future of your brand with you.

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