After suffering a bout of verbal d diarrhoea at a press event in Sydney earlier this week, Netgear CEO Patrick Lo, is now trying to hose down the implications of his actions with the issuing of an apology to the seriously ill Apple Chairman Steve Jobs.
The email that was recommended by his PR advisers and sent to several journalists in Australia read: “As many of you know I spoke in Sydney on Monday, at a lunch with more than a half dozen of Australia’s leading technology and business journalists.
“We covered a wide range of topics including the emergence of new IP protocols, cloud computing, wireless routers/repeaters in the home, the National Broadband Network (a current major Government project in Australia) and much more.
“During the course of the discussion, I shared my views about the future of Apple and Microsoft, as well as the surge of Android.
“Some of my comments were covered by the media who attended, and were reported more broadly outside Australia by media and bloggers who picked up on the story.
“I stand by the opinions I stated on the business issues. Supporting open standards and environments in order to ease seamless networking integration of multimedia content is good for the consumer and good for content providers.
“However, I deeply regret the choice of words I used in relation to business decisions Apple must grapple with in the future in relation to open vs. closed systems, which have been construed by some to be references to Steve Jobs’ health and which was never my intention.
“I sincerely apologise that what I said was interpreted this way, and I wish Steve only the very best.
The event organised by International PR company Weber Shandwick was attacked by media from around the world when Lo, whose business is struggling to find growth, as Asian manufacturers launch low cost networking gear and margins on storage and other connectivity devices are eroded, admitted that Steve Jobs, who is believed to be seriously ill with cancer, was a person he did not like, he said it was his belief that the only way Apple will abandon its principles and open up the company will be if Jobs dies.
What angered many journalists and Apple fans was when Lo, a Chinese national, said: “Once Steve Jobs goes away, which is probably not far away, and then Apple will have to make a strategic decision on whether to open up the platform.”
As a company Netgear has struggled in the past with public relations and as for Lo, he is a person who despite Netgear being a share listed Company sees Netgear as his own private company which is why he believes he can say what he likes about his competitors.
ITJourno wrote about the furore by pointing out that several global publications had picked up on the story. US PC World said Lo “goes ape”, The Washington Post said he “slams Jobs, Apple and Microsoft”. Elsewhere headlines use the words: disses, blasts, digs, smack talks, trash talks, dumps and pops – words that could well come back to haunt Netgear who appear to be no longer interested in the specialist tech and channel media who have been the only media writing about their products for the past decade.
ITJourno went on to raise the question as to whether it was a strange decision to limit the Lo briefing to only a select group of journalists. Certainly, if the aim was to avoid any controversy, it didn’t work, they said.
Weber Shandwick, who has a questionable track record after being dumped by Samsung last year after only 18 months in the job, instructed their client to say “no comment” yesterday.
According to Ryan Parker the Managing Director of Netgear Australia, who is currently in the USA with Lo, the issue is an embarrassment for the company.
“We have been instructed by our PR advisers to say “no comment” he told ChannelNews.
In the US this morning publications like the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal are running Lo’s apology. Apple has not responded to the comments.
Yesterday International technology magazine PC World said: “Netgear’s global chairman and CEO Patrick Lo, who for no clear reason attacked Steve Jobs and Apple in the Australian press. And instead of bolstering Netgear’s reputation, Lo’s comments came off smug, cruel and confused”.
PC World went on to say “Maybe this cattiness is rooted in Lo’s emotional insecurity. When Lo was asked if he had communicated his concerns to Jobs, he said: “Steve Jobs doesn’t give me a minute!” Sounds to me like he’s feeling a little abandoned on the playground and nobody will come to his birthday party, despite renting a horsie”.
“Lo’s comments are harsh, for sure. They’re also so misguided and confused, they’re laughable. Dude, you don’t compete with one another — what do you care how Jobs runs his business?” Brennon Slattery wrote.
In midday trading in New York, Netgear shares had fallen to $34.68. Late last year the share was trading at $38.00