Connotation, phrasing, inference… these are all subtle colors of writing that affect interpretation. I don’t think enough businesses consider this, but it’s something Apple Inc. demonstrated keen awareness of recently in noting how its computers are no longer the iron fortresses against virus infections they were once portrayed to be.
Just like the occasional operating system or software update, Apple’s wording regarding just how safe its computers inherently are got an update recently. As reported in The Atlantic…
Apple is downgrading its antiviral swagger. On the company’s site, its former, blunt message — “it doesn’t get PC viruses” — has been replaced by a more generic boast: “It’s built to be safe.”
And the slogan of the past — “Safeguard your data. By doing nothing.” — has been replaced by the much gentler “Safety. Built in.”
More Accurate? Or CYA?
I find it very interesting how such a subtle change in phrasing notes a major shift in thinking. And perhaps Apple’s thought is that this subtle tweak will be enough to still accurately convey some benefit – although it kinda feels like a CYA to me.
Still, I find it encouraging that understanding shades of meaning and texture of words matter enough to be put into practice by one of the world’s leading companies. Words matter. Writing matters.
UPDATE: From original ace reporter, Hamish Barwick – turns out it IS a CYA:
@rsmithing Hi Richard. Thanks for the reference! CYA is a good term to describe Apple's security re-wording in the wake of Flashback etc.—
Hamish Barwick (@HamishBarwick) June 28, 2012
What do you think? Is this an obvious CYA on Apple’s part, or a legitimately more accurate way of describing its product? What is another example you can think of? Let us hear from you in the comments!
- It’s Official: Apple Computers Are No Longer Virus-Free (theatlantic.com)
- Macs and malware – See how Apple has changed its marketing message (Naked Security)
- First apple computer to be auctioned (bigpondnews.com)
- Apple Drops ‘We Don’t Get PC Viruses’ Schtick (wired.com)
- Bad Apples: New Virus Affecting Mac Computers (Stahancyk, Kent & Hook)
- Visiting Apple, Inc. (Mountain View Hotels)
- The Secret Rules Every Apple Store Employee Must Abide By [Humor] (cultofmac.com)