Radical Transparency: Three Lessons Apple Can Learn from Google

11 Sep
Steve Rubel via Micro Persuasion shared by 6 people

Google isn't exactly known as the most transparent company in the world, but they're light years ahead of Apple - a company that in some ways they share a kinship with when it comes to their reputation for innovation. Apple (or for that matter any big company) can learn a lot about radical transparency, customer service and PR from Google, even though they're hardly perfect here.

First, Google does a great job of telling you where they're fallible. Many Google products have pages that list the bugs that they know need to be fixed. GMail and Google Docs are just two. You can visit each of these pages for an update and even let Google know if you're experiencing one of these issues.


Apple, by contrast, just lets you know when they've fixed bugs, but leave it to bloggers to dig into the code to see just what was fixed. Most Apple software update release notes from Apple simply say "Bug fixes."


Second, Google, like Apple, has forums where users can voice their opinions about new features, gripes, wishes, use cases and more. Google employees actively participate in these forums and you can track their activity. Here's a page that shows you all of the posts that a Google Reader forum guide, "Roger," has responded to. Apple does the same in its forums. Here's a list of all of the postings that Jason L has responded to.

However, the difference between the two is that users can rank the posts of Google employees or even report misconduct. I give credit to Apple for participating, however, I wished they would let users rate employee postings.


Finally, Google has a ton of blogs. Most of them link back to the bloggers who link there. Some are beginning to allow for comments. Google Blogoscoped aggregates them here. Even better, all Google blog posts clearly identify the employee who authored the post and their title.


Apple meanwhile has one blog for its much troubled MobileMe services, which I am probably dignifying by calling it that. It's bascially a news feed of product updates. The authors aren't identified. Worse, there are no comments or links to other bloggers.

There are other companies in the tech industry that go even further than Google in their transparency - namely Dell and Microsoft (an Edelman client). However, Google and Apple are often closely linked in their cultures. The reality is, though, that when it comes to customer engagement, they are quite different.

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