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Critic: With iPhone 5 Launch, Tim Cook Blows Major PR Opportunity

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The head of a corporate watchdog accountability group says Apple has missed the moment to make its products more attractive to American buyers.

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Do you speak directly to Apple's shareholders? What are the responses?
We work a little bit with shareholders. We held a rally under the annual stock meeting in February in Cupertino. It's a ways away from the Bay, and it's not a large town, but we still had about 35 people show up for a couple of hours. We haven't proposed a resolution around this, but it's certainly something we would consider for next year, especially if Apple continues to refuse to address this situation.

What do you hear from American consumers on this topic?
I think that what most consumers really understand is that there is just no reason that Apple can't continue to make the products they make and treat their workers well. People want to feel good about buying Apple products. That's the brand Apple has built.

So what's the disconnect? Why haven't we seen a major consumer backlash?
I think there is mounting consumer awareness, but you have to remember that these technologies lock you in. It's not an easy switch. You've bought your iBook or your iPhone and you've invested in their products. I'm not going to say it's as hard as switching banks, but everybody knows that banks do horrible things but most people don't take their money out of banks, right?

Why are you focused on Apple? Are the makers of Androids (GOOG) or other phone makers any better?
Apple is a company that can fix the problem, which gives them a special moral imperative to do so. But the truth is that other phones are not made under significantly better conditions. So given that you're going to have a phone, the argument for switching is not so much that the other phones are made better, it's that Apple has the opportunity to make their phones better, and they're not. Apple is operating on massive profit margins and is the 800-pound gorilla. If Apple says to a supplier that it wants something changed, the supplier will change it, whereas if Samsung (SSNLF) or another company says they want something changed, the supplier might resist.


As this story went live on our site, Apple's stock price was hovering around $665 and was expected to head upwards. Reviews were starting to flood tech blogs about the new phone's taller screen, more colorful display, and thinner design. An analyst at JPMorgan has said he believed the iPhone 5 could potentially add between 1/4 and 1/2 point to fourth quarter annualized GDP growth.


More tech coverage from Minyanville:

Analysts Expect Record-Breaking iPhone 5 Sales, but Will It Help Mobile Carriers?

Wait a Minute! Did Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg Really Say Anything New?

Tech News: Oops, Apple Search Engine Reveals Secret Product Names


No positions in stocks mentioned.
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