Which emoji is causing Steve Jobs to roll in his grave? Read on to find out more.
If you thought Apple had learned its lesson on pissing off its core consumers, think again! Not since spamming everyone’s Itunes library with a U2 album no one asked for has Apple caused such a universal outrage with an IOS update.
Enter their new set of “diverse” emoji for their IOS 8.3 slated for later this year. A recent developer beta released to the public contains a stereotypical yellow face emoji that many believe is intended to represent Asian faces.
Quite a misstep by Apple considering that the new emoji keyboard options were in fact an answer to a previous consumer complaint that Apple had excluded racially diverse emoji faces and skin tones back in 2011. During that time most faces featured in the popular letter text alternative were predominantly faces that appeared Caucasian or “white.”
The issue stirred up so much online controversy from users that even Apple users such as Tahj Mowry (the younger brother of the Tia and Tamara Mowry and Smart Guy fame) to even Miley freakin’ Cyrus chimed in on the lack of diversity Apple presented it’s users in its emoji selection.
Add in the fact that a majority of complaints have come from Mainland China, an increasingly important consumer demographic not just for Apple but the world. The exponential growth of China’s economy, open minded youth population, and new found curiosity in adopting Western culture has made China the proverbial cash cow that companies worldwide hope to milk.
The disapproval by China of Apple’s products could not come at a worse time considering that currently China has surpassed the United States in terms of Iphone sales. Although Apple’s Iphone was and still is largely considered the leader in innovating smart phone design, stories such as this paired along with the many criticisms laid against the recently released Iphone 6 as underwhelming, cannot be making Apple execs happy.Especially when you include that Asian based company’s such as South Korea’s Samsung, are quickly gaining ground in the smart phone battle to boot.
However what may be even worse for Apple than making this blunder is that although they have released the IOS update with the updated emoji and faces in question included, Apple itself did not create the emoji. They have just received the lion’s share of the blame.
In fact the developer of the emoji is by a company called Unicode Consortium. Apple believes there has been a bit of confusion over the yellow skinned faces as being a thinly veiled act of racism opposed to a misunderstanding of Unicode Consortium’s artistic choice of utilizing the Fitzpatrick scale.
The Fitzpatrick scale is a recognized standard for dermatology and was implemented by Unicode Consortium to allow users to choose from a variety of skin tones and modifiers based on their preferences. Unfortunately within the emoji keyboard the yellow face is used as a default color until users select other choices. Therefore in a sense it is due to a random programming misstep that has caused such controversy. A controversy Apple itself did not create, but is now currently responsible for releasing.
This perhaps leads to a very reasonable and plausible explanation by Apple of an inadvertent misunderstanding of an originally innocent emoji option. Nevertheless one still has to consider what necessity did having a yellow face among the other skin tones available served if not to represent Asian in a stereotypical manner? Unless the world of Matt Groening characters and a population with complexions like The Simpsons family exists unbeknownst to the average consumer, chances are it was used to represent Asian people. Or jaundice, there is always the under represented jaundice population, but that’s another argument for another day.
Either way at this point the damage has been done to Apple’s reputation among a growing demographic of consumers; namely Asians who are increasingly becoming the core demographic consuming all things electronic with a high amount of disposable income. Time will tell how this will play out and how Apple will try to appease Asian consumers in the future.
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