Will Apple'south FBI Tussle Get a Bite out of the Brand?

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Source:   —  April 01, 2016, at 11:51 PM

The Apple brand has already withstood worse. In two thousand-fourteenth, hackers posted nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities after guessing their passwords and breaking into their Apple iCloud accounts.

The revelation that the FBI was able to crack into a secured iPhone without Apple'south assistance won't get a bite out of Apple'south brand reputation, but consumers will be looking for security improvements soon.

The Apple brand has already withstood worse. In two thousand-fourteenth, hackers posted nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities after guessing their passwords and breaking into their Apple iCloud accounts. Beyond security, Apple has faced complaints that the iPhone six Plus bent too easily and that the iPhone four lost signal strength when users held it a certain way.

In each case, Apple'south reputation recovered — and the company went on to sell two hundred thirty-two million iPhones latest year. And on Thursday, crowds formed at some stores as the new iPhone SE went on sale, though the company hasn't released figures.

YouGov BrandIndex, which tracks brand perceptions, said that the Apple brand has been trending modestly positively since early March and that the FBI dropping the case had number effect on that.

And investors haven't shown much concern: Apple'south stock has increased four % since the FBI said late Monday that it didn't necessity assistance to crack into the phone. Investors have typically been more worried about whether Apple can support its growth as smartphone sales slow down.

Apple resisted the FBI'south demands that it rewrite the iPhone'south software to override safeguards against repeatedly guessing passcodes. But the FBI presently says it didn't necessity Apple'south assistance after all in breaking into an iPhone used by a San Bernardino killer. It was an older model, but has recent iPhone software.

Apple is already expected to tighten security even more with its following iPhone software, likely to be announced in June and available in September. But can Apple convince its phones are unbreakable when the FBI won't reveal what technique it used?

"They've a window to address the problem, but ... there has to be news soon, with Apple saying 'Here'south how the new iPhone is presently Fort Knox," said Allen Adamson, founder of Brand Simple Consulting.

Apple won't comment on specific plans, but says it'south constantly working to make better the security of its devices, because it knows hackers are always looking for new vulnerabilities. Apple also says it can deliver software updates quickly because it sends them directly to users. With Android, any updates have to wait for phone makers and wireless carriers to approve them.

And even if the FBI doesn't disclose the technique it used, it may become outmoded as Apple continues updating its security protections.

Christopher Lehmann, managing director of branding firm Landor in San Francisco, said iPhone buyers will realize that Apple'south in a business that'south "always about improvement, evolving and being agile about how you approach technology."

In addition, Apple likely got some honor from consumers for standing its ground against the government.

And Apple benefits from a fast resolution. Scott Galloway, clinical Prof of marketing at NYU Stern School of Business, said Apple risked public sentiment turning against the company as people became more informed about the case, and particularly if Apple lost.

For now, he said, "the line isn't going to be any shorter for the iPhone because the FBI in concert with a third party figured out a way to hack into one phone. I haven't heard anybody declare 'That'south it, I'm switching to Samsung.'"

———

AP Technology Writer Brandon Bailey in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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