Apple (AAPL) was once the strong, silent type. Former CEO Steve Jobs might have given rivals a jab or two during a press conference here and there, but for the most part, Apple left the petty squabbling to its competition in recent history and relied on impactful marketing and advertising to deliver positive messages about its products. This is one of the reasons the media was taken aback when Apple’s marketing boss Phil Schiller blasted Android on the eve of Samsung’s (005930) Galaxy S 4 debut last week. According to former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassee, this snafu was yet another sign that Apple is “losing the war of words.”
“Attacking competitors, pointing to their weaknesses, and trumpeting one’s achievements is better done by hired media assassins,” Gassee wrote in a column on Monday. “A company, directly or through a PR firm, engages oft-quoted consultants who provide the required third-party stats, barbs, and encomiums. This isn’t theorizing, I once was a director at a company, one of many, that used such an arrangement to good effect.”
Gassee argued that Schiller used poorly chosen language in his “trash talk” that not only positioned Apple as defensive and petty, but also drew attention to the fact that Apple’s highly effective strategy of letting its performance do the talking is not working anymore.
“Besides its ads, Apple says very little, confident numbers will do the talking,” Gassee wrote. “This no longer works as others have seized the opportunity to drive the narrative.”
The former Apple executive also noted that Apple shares gained 1% and 2.58%, respectively in the two days leading up to Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 unveiling. “Schiller could have said nothing before the launch and, today, let others point to early criticism of the S4′s apparent featuritis,” he wrote.