When The Little App Factory received a legal letter from Apple requesting that they change the name of their popular Mac app, "iPodRip," CEO John Devor decided to pen a heartfelt e-mail to Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself. iPodRip, in case you're unaware, is a nifty little Mac app that enables users to copy songs from their iPhone or iPod back to their Mac. The app has been around since 2003 and is must-have if you experience any kind of data loss on your Mac. To date, it has been downloaded over 5 million times.
Apple naturally sent the letter to The Little App Factory because the name "iPodRip" infringes on Apple's "iPod" trademark. Now you might think that Apple is being unnecessarily nitpicky here, but in the sometimes ambiguous world of trademark law, if you don't actively protect your trademarks, it becomes a lot easier for companies to use your trademarks without fear of legal recourse. iPodRip may be a quality program, but not every app that uses the "iPod" name necessarily is.
In any event, onto the letter which reads in part:
Dear Mr. Jobs,
My name is John Devor and I'm the co-owner of a small Mac shareware company named The Little App Factory and a long-term Apple customer and shareholder. I doubt you're aware but we recently received a letter from a law firm working on Apple's behalf instructing us that we had violated several of Apple's trademarks in our application iPodRip and asking us to cease using the name and Apple trademarks in our icon ...
It is quite obvious that we mean Apple no harm with the use of the name iPodRip, or of the inclusion of trademarked items in our icons, and in fact I believe that we have been providing an excellent secondary service to Apple customers that has potentially caused you many repeat clients. In fact, we are quite aware that Apple support and store staff have recommended our software on numerous occasions as far back as 2004 so we have felt that we were doing something right!
With this in mind, we are in desperate need of some assistance and we beseech you to help us to protect our product and our shareware company, both of which we have put thousands upon thousands of hours of work into. Our company goal is to create Mac software of the highest quality with the best user experience possible. I myself dropped out of school recently to pursue a path in the Mac software industry, and you yourself have been a consistent inspiration for me. If there is anything at all you can do with regards to this matter, we would be most grateful.
Jobs, true to form, subsequently responded with a curt email stating:
Change your apps name. Not that big of a deal.
Sent from my iPhone
Well we can certainly deduce one thing from Jobs' response -- he was born to Tweet!
Jobs doesn't respond to customer emails too often, but when he does, they're always short and too the point.
In October 2008, Apple created quite a stir when it removed Firewire connectivity from its new line of MacBooks. An angry "Apple fan" took it upon himself to email Jobs and criticize Apple's decision to wean its consumer products off of Firewire. The following email exchange is what followed.
And going all the way back to August of 2008, some iPhone users at the time were experiencing problems accessing third-party apps in the wake of the iPhone OS 2.0 and iTunes App Store rollout. In light of mounting complaints, Jobs sent one iPhone owner a terse 1-line email stating, "This is a known iPhone bug that is being fixed in the next software update in September."
The moral of the story? If you're an Apple employee and you happen to screw up, try and resolve the situation with Jobs via email instead of in person.
This story, "Steve Jobs: Born to Tweet? " was originally published by Network World.