88 comments

3rd grader sends letter to Steve Jobs and Apple in return slams her

by Dhiram Shah

Shea O’Gorman is 9 years old and the third grader just learnt to write letters and decided to write one to Steve Jobs. Why? Because she loves her iPod Nano and had a few ideas which she though would make the Nano even better. Like if the Nano would support Lyrics she could sing along and stuff. She wrote a letter and to her surprise a letter arrived from Apple after three months, excited, the whole family sat together to read it. The letter was not from Steve Jobs, it was signed the senior counsel, Apple Law Department and when little Shea read it she was very upset ran up to her room and slammed it. Apple’s legal department told her that the company does not accept unsolicited ideas. Apple’s legal department told her not send them her suggestions, and if she wants to know why, she could read their legal policy on the Internet.

“We were stunned, we just were stunned, is the best word to say. It just wasn’t the appropriate type letter to send to a third grader who had the initiative to write to them, They are a company who tries to promote itself as an educator of children. That was really, it was unacceptable. They know better than that,” said Shea’s mom.
Source

88 Comments

  1. odin powers

    f you steve

    Reply
  2. brian

    This story is from 2006. Welcome to the past.

    Reply
  3. Michael

    Oh, this story is only over a year old…
    Is this oldlaunches.com?

    Reply
  4. bill

    …is this where Steve says Oh, crap…and sends her a free iPhone?

    Reply
  5. Bill Gates

    Those Apple Bastards!

    Reply
  6. Mike

    Get over it, your precious little crotch fruit is going find out sooner or later that life is full of disappointment and rejections over matters much less trivial than this tripe.

    Reply
  7. Seth

    This may sound like an asshole thing to say but I’m really laughing picturing that little girl’s face as she reads further into the letter. Oh my god I’m going to hell. Hahaha

    Reply
  8. Zohaib

    OWNED!
    lol.. I feel sorry for her, but she is a human and she should have read the legal docs.

    Reply
  9. Mallory

    Horrible,just horrible.

    Reply
  10. Dizzley

    Wow – really class work there Apple. I just emailed Steve Jobs I hope that I don’t get a Cease and Desist letter.
    I expect they feel really big boys now in Apple’s Law Dept.

    Reply
  11. count ludwig

    It wasn’t Steve Jobs and an iPod, it was Bill Gates and an XBox.

    Reply
  12. chris

    This is a form letter generated by any large corporation. If they didn’t do this they’d be open to civil lawsuit if they ever decided to put those features in. I doubt anyone even knew she was only a third grader. Some people just need to relax.

    Reply
  13. matt

    youch. when i was in third grade I was playing make believe and learning how the things around me worked, not the issue at hand, but I think all of this technology may not be good for todays youth.

    Reply
  14. Adam

    That’s not exactly a slam – it’s a form letter. They have to be able to protect their behinds in the case that they do get some kind of lawsuit pulled on them down the road. Steve Jobs probably didn’t even see the letter himself; I understand that they could’ve sent a more politely-worded response, but a corporation is a corporation, even if it’s Apple.

    Reply
  15. Mike

    You know, at the end of the day, if those parents can’t understand why Apple replied in such a way then too bad for them. You know, Apple would be screwed no matter how they replied, and, honestly, the choice they made was simply less costly. Think about it. Some little girl sends suggestions to Apple and Apple eventually creates a product with those features, whether they took her suggestions or had the ideas already. Next thing you know the girl’s parents have the brilliant idea of claiming that the features included in the latest iPod were stolen from their child. Now Apple must waste money trying to defend themselves in court and on PR to reverse the negative image brought upon them with such headlines as “Apple steals little girl’s ideas” and “Apple cheating off 3rd grader in class test”. And, if they lose, which would be highly unlikely yet still possible, they would either have to pay royalties to the family or pull their product off the shelves. So really, they just tried to cover their arse by telling the girl not to give them unsolicited ideas which might put them in jeopardy. Also, I’m pretty sure they weren’t as harsh as the article made them seem, since Apple knows customer service and the girl was a customer.

    Reply
  16. daniel

    thats just sad,,, so sad-… 🙁 hope someone at apple reads this and brings it up… or that they really throw a great amount of light on this…. they should be greatful for ideas…. ideas can come from anywhere and be brilliant….

    Reply
  17. a

    Ummmm… yeah that is what companies do. Like they care if she is 9. They get about 5 million of those letters a day i bet.

    Reply
  18. Anon

    Pictures… or it never happened.

    Reply
  19. Yo Kj

    fake

    Reply
  20. berzo12

    further proving that apple only cares for trendy hipsters…but this story really is sad to see how uninvolved and detached we are these days

    Reply
  21. Mike

    You know, at the end of the day, if those parents can’t understand why Apple replied in such a way then too bad for them. You know, Apple would be screwed no matter how they replied, and, honestly, the choice they made was simply less costly. Think about it. Some little girl sends suggestions to Apple and Apple eventually creates a product with those features, whether they took her suggestions or had the ideas already. Next thing you know the girl’s parents have the brilliant idea of claiming that the features included in the latest iPod were stolen from their child. Now Apple must waste money trying to defend themselves in court and on PR to reverse the negative image brought upon them with such headlines as “Apple steals little girl’s ideas” and “Apple cheating off 3rd grader in class test”. And, if they lose, which would be highly unlikey yet still possible, they would either have to pay royalties to the family or pull their product off the shelves. So really, they just tried to cover their arse by telling the girl not to give them unsolicited ideas which might put them in jeopardy. Also, I’m pretty sure they weren’t as harsh as the article made them seem, since Apple knows customer service and the girl was a customer.

    Reply
  22. harry

    Can you hear Apple’s tires squealing in reverse?

    Reply
  23. Waldo Sheboygan

    Get over it. Corporations have a right to make policies about unsolicited suggestions. Be glad they took her seriously enough to write back at all. Just because the unsolicited suggestions are sent in by a child doesn’t mean a corporation is obligated to abandon it’s policy and act like the kid’s favorite auntie. If the child can’t stand being told the truth, she’s in for far bigger disappointments.

    Reply
  24. Justin

    Well, true they shouldn’t have sent that letter to her. Although, it’s probably some sort of policy. I’m sure they felt in some way they should reply. Though, perhaps they should have not done so. Maybe it would have been better if they kept their policy to themselves. No answer would have been nicer than sending her a legal informative. I’d have to see the letter myself but how are they supposed to know it’s a 9 year old? Maybe she writes really well. Maybe she said something (as a lot of kids do) that seemed rude to the recipient. Maybe they thought she was complaining.
    This story I’m sure only shows one side of it. I sure wouldn’t judge Apple because of some misinterpretation on the Internet. It’s gossip like this (that probably isn’t even true) that gives big companies a bad name and/or let’s little shit children look innocent when they’re far from any synonym of the word.
    That’s my take from both angels. Sorry about the pessimism.
    -J

    Reply
  25. babyshambles

    If they hadn’t sent such a letter, then when/if they ever incorporate new features into their products which were even remotely close to those suggested, then the now 9 year old, but then 20 year old might feel that they were owed something (Millions)for making the suggestion which contributed to the companies financial success.
    I once suggested to them that they should have the legal department automatically respond to unsolicited suggestions, and it seems from the story above that they have adopted my suggestion, so I think it would only be Fair, and Just for them to compensate me for my forward thinking vision which will surely help them keep charlatans out of the company treasury. Pay up Steve!

    Reply
  26. J

    I’m not very surprised that a dictatorship would do this..

    Reply
  27. anon

    proof that they dont care about anything except money

    Reply
  28. some jerk

    When I was a kid I wrote a letter to Nintendo, asking them to make a Star Wars real time strategy game. I received a reply not unlike the one mentioned in this article, and it wasn’t anything to call the local news about.
    There’s nothing out of the ordinary here, except for a family whipping themselves into a frenzy because someone from Cupertino doesn’t pat the back of a nine year old for product improvement suggestions.
    Oh, and is there any way you could fit more ads on this page? I wanna see if you can actually make a browser explode by embedding flash.

    Reply
  29. g patras

    You weren’t expecting something different were you?

    Reply
  30. Izabael

    I got the same letter after sending him topless photos of myself. Go figure…;-)

    Reply
  31. c'mon

    It’s hardly like they teabagged her little pony or shot a beanbag into her face, is it? All they did was send the appropriate letter when dealing with unsolicited ideas. What if one day the shuffle gets lyrics, and her parents try and get paid for it. I can see the headlines: “third grader’s idea stolen by apple”. It’s ridiculous, but major corporations need to cover their asses.
    And what were the parents thinking anyway? Did they think Steve Jobs would sit down and write to every asshole with an idea? Or hire her?
    This was ridiculous. I can’t believe a story was made from this boring shit.

    Reply
  32. ftr

    Even more shocking, considering Steve Jobs tried to get various companies to take his idea and they all refused him. It’s incredily angering how he’s willing to do the exact same thing to a 9-year old.

    Reply
  33. Dr OM

    I was wavering whether to continue to support Apple products or not, but this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. Apple can burn in…

    Reply
  34. Mike

    I couldnt agree more. I think Steve Jobs owes her a personal formal apolligee

    Reply
  35. Evan

    That’s one of the more hilarious things I have heard in a while.

    Reply
  36. scottpenton

    They should send that letter to Woz he’ll do something

    Reply
  37. SiriS

    Oh my god! They sent her a form letter about her ideas! WHAT HAS THE WORLD COME TO!?!?
    Jesus, just suck it up.
    I doubt they read it and thought, “Oh, a letter from a third grade girl. I think I’ll shatter her dreams and make her cry!”
    In fact, I doubt that they read it, or who sent it, at all.

    Reply
  38. Jared

    well that was obviously an auto-reply sent for all the letters they receive for ideas. They had no way of knowing her age, and if they did, and they didn’t just send automated letters, I’m sure it would have been written differently. I am not a big fan of apple (I like their business strategy), but this is almost a non-issue with me.

    Reply
  39. badger

    I’m very suspicious of this story. Doesn’t sound like apple to me at all. I’d like to see a copy of the letter.

    Reply
  40. sage

    This Article: October 28, 2007 10:50 AM
    Source Article: Apr 13, 2006 10:16 PM
    YEAH BOI!

    Reply
  41. subtrix

    Apple lost one customer for sure … and i am going to forward this page to all my friends and i m sure apple is going to lose many fans.

    Reply
  42. nathan

    well, mac does suck
    recent poll on facebook showed that 79% preferred a windows computer.

    Reply
  43. Ghille Ganache

    I am exceedingly glad you posted this…so, in future..when the ipod DOES have the lyric capability..you can have YOUR lawyer contact their lawyer to discuss the long term compensation of your daughter for giving them the idea…all of which would have been unnecessary if they had just been polite and answered a little girls letter!

    Reply
  44. RJT

    There is a legal issue. If they adopt the idea they could be sued by the suggester for a payment on every sale. I’m sure they have a form letter that covers this and that is what was received. They separate their developers from outside ideas to legally cover themselves.

    Reply
  45. Ghille Ganache

    Oh…and KEEP that original letter…it may be priceless!!

    Reply
  46. DaTroll

    Did the letter indicate that the writer was a 9 year-old? Was it an email? Was it typed on a wordprocessor and then printed and snail-mailed? The article is poorly written so relevant information is missing. Also, it is understandable that Apple would do this…otherwise they open themselves up to endless lawsuits from people who see an idea put into an Apple product and then yell (through their lawyer) “HEY! That was MY idea and Apple stole it! I WANT MONEY!”
    Just a bit of common sense would have been appropriate. At least the article wasn’t biased towards showing Apple as the bad guys…oh, wait….never mind…

    Reply
  47. Kmuzu

    Look a few years ago, the RIAA started lawsuits against these church groups, because they were singing copyrighted songs, like Happy Birthday and Jesus Love Me. They demanded that these groups pay for the rights. All the girls from these church groups got together and stood outside RIAA headquarters and started singing the song and begging the police to arrest them. You can imagine how this ends. Never go against a nine year old girl. You’re going to get your ass kicked.

    Reply
  48. Steve

    Nya, RTFM little biatch!

    Reply
  49. meme

    Reading these comments you lot will belive anything!

    Reply
  50. Daniel

    Stupid article, but reading all the hissy fits in the comments was hilarious.
    This is a standard reply for any corporation. Yes, Apple is just another corporation, and yes the bottom line IS money.
    It gives me a smile to see all the shocked responses to the fact that His Holiness Steve Jobs from the Venerable Almighty Apple could behave in such a heartless manner!
    Get a life people. Do you really think he even saw the letter? I can picture his secretary bursting into his office screaming “drop everything! You have a letter from a nine year old girl!”

    Reply
  51. Eric J

    “she should have read the legal docs”?? How many 3rd graders do you know who surf the web for legal documents?

    Reply
  52. Cray

    photoshoped! This letter was photoshoped by Gary Carpenter. If you don’t believe me ask Richard Steele!

    Reply
  53. NicK Nasty

    only a fool would buy a mac/apple computer, its a dumb down version of a pc for the masses

    Reply
  54. Clay Tonic

    Hahahahahaha. I did this same thing with McDonalds when I was a kid and got a very similar letter back. Except back then, instead of “they’re so insensitive” it was “what did you expect, kid?”

    Reply
  55. cwolf

    and this is why I stopped buying Apple… Oh wait. I never bought from them. And probably never will. Unless Dell or Lenovo manage to sneak a couple of Apple parts into their computers that is.

    Reply
  56. Ashlyn

    Hah. This made news? When we learned to write letters in school, I wrote an idea in to a company and received a similar letter. I didn’t throw a hissy fit and get on the news. I simply accepted company policy.
    Kids today think it’s all about them. Better they grow up and learn nobody cares now, than years later after being cosseted all through life.

    Reply
  57. cyber slacker

    My lord, precious wittle snow flake got her feewings hurt? If you go around giving your opinions to people who didn’t ask for them, you’re going to get answered some day. Kudos to Apple for putting her in her place.

    Reply
  58. Technical writer

    It is never required to send faceless legal documentation without a preamble. “Thank you for your ideas. We are glad to know people like Apple products. However, our lawyers say we must say this…”

    Reply
  59. Brian

    This is the standard letter given to anyone who submits ideas to any media company–film studios, software companies, record labels. Unless she ID’d herself as a 3rd grader, should Apple make an exception of her?

    Reply
  60. Tucker

    All they were doing is taking her letter, adding it to the improvements box, and sending her a rejection letter. Years later, your iPod now displays lyrics, and they don’t owe the girl anything because they rejected her suggestion.

    Reply
  61. Jason Ganz

    The american legal system is a good thing in this case. Whether or not it is in fact a 9 year old who wrote this letter, Apple is merely protecting their interests and must assume (and rightfully so) that this is a competitor attempting to sabotage Apple’s propriety. Remember it was approximately 20 years ago when Jobs and Gates attempted to work on a GUI together (Graphical User Interface) and Gates stole the idea and turned it into Windows (and subsequently almost put Apple permanently into the ground). If I was in Apple’s shoes, I wouldn’t trust anyone for a second with complimenting their ideas for they could employ it into a product to one-up Apple’s iPod.
    Secondly, how do we know the 9 year old in fact wrote it on her own volition, and that it wasn’t her parents who did it? First off, we don’t know if the parents wrote the letter and forged the child’s name / signature in an attempt to make it appear the child composed such a letter. It could be the parents hoping that Apple cracks and provides potentially damaging information on how to insert lyrics (or whatever) into an mp3-database library player such as Zune. Secondly, kids if given the proper incentive or training are extremely malleable and can be made to act in a certain way if the parents want a certain reaction (ie: news coverage) in the hopes of generating bad PR for a company that one or both parents work for a competitor of. (Ie: get a bad letter from apple, show to the parent’s (s’) colleagues at a competitor, build product, profit like nuts off it.)
    Furthering this, if I was the parent, I wouldn’t see this so much as Apple trying to humiliate my child for being 9 years old. I would see it as “hey, this company’s smart enough to protect its own interests” from a competitor standpoint, as well as if the parents aren’t working for competition, that it can be chalked up as an important life lesson. Intellectual and copyright laws in the United States are very powerful things and are to be treated with the utmost of respect, no matter how flawed the product is or how good of an idea is. If we take this idea, how do we not know whether the parents could have leaked the idea out of Apple if they are workers? We don’t know if the parents work, or have worked for, Apple and are not on the best of terms and could see this as a way to aid the competition by stirring the water under the bridge. By replying a scathing letter to a supposed 9 year old (without proof of the child’s signature on the letter being certified, we cannot fully assume it was a 3rd grader’s work), Apple is giving due warning that this act could be construed as a theft of intellectual property and that subsequent inquiries of that nature could be viewed as theft and be met with legal action.
    Thus, the disclaimer is there to protect them. An idea contributed to a company, unless the idea has been patented and legally protected by the contributing party in the past and/or has a written, and mutually agreed upon terms and conditions, becomes intellectual property of the company for several reasons. The primary reason could be viewed as when an idea is contributed to a large company without terms and conditions and without a written statement consisting of words and / or diagrams pertaining to said process / function, that when a product is released with that function, the public is given the impression that this new function was in fact an in-house creation, and therefore no dues are necessary to the contributing party unless there was a mutual agreement in writing. A typical agreement would contain what the function is, how it works, how to get it to work, the programming behind it, and possibly a legal protection such as a copyright and / or patent by the composer’s part so that the composer has the legal opportunity to collect a dividend off the products with that feature. If such an agreement isn’t there, than Apple legally has a de facto ownership of the product based on what the general population sees.
    Put the letter in this perspective, they could have just flat-out sued, taken the girl and her parents to court (with the parents representing the minor), and the attorney’s fees and legal fees for the family could be so potentially devastating that the family could be forced into foreclosure and depending on the state, could even be forced to pay Apple’s attorney’s fees. From this macabre standpoint, Apple could actually be giving a “one-shot-deal” to the family by taking the higher ground of not just flat out suing the family, and thus protecting the family from irreversible damage. Although I am not saying Apple is going “far and beyond the call of duty”, they are at least trying to maintain damage control and give a slight benefit of the doubt on the sole and naive assumption that it is in fact a 9 year old who had the recourse to write such a letter.
    If protecting one’s intellectual interests has become such a crime that people feel they need to know the inner workings of a company’s brainchild / mass-market icon, then it may be assumed that capitalism in the United States is doomed to failure. Although it may be remotely possible that the letter was legitimately composed by a 9 year old, within the context of our rapidly evolving technologically-inclined society it must be assumed unless proven otherwise that the work was an attempt to infiltrate Apple for proprietary information. The essence of capitalism in a technology-driven world is to evolve and improve products, a point which must be conceded and acknowledged, but to do so in a manner that provides incentive for companies to legitimately improve their products within the confines of the business. When a company is viewed as a criminal for protecting its information, then the idea of progress becomes stunted at the root. If it wasn’t for intellectual interests and creative ideas, we wouldn’t have the products we have and a fiercely capitalistic computer product industry like we do now, and to try to steal ideas doesn’t improve anyone’s product, it just prevents other companies from desiring to improve their own out of fear that they’ll be viewed as criminal for protecting new ideas.
    I show no sympathy for the 9 year old and her family. If anything the girl and her family should be thankful Apple kept the punishing to a slap on the wrist with an outline of their legal contract, and not an outline of what a nice healthy “theft of intellectual property” lawsuit looks like.

    Reply
  62. J Harrison

    If her letter’s grammar was as bad as this article’s, I’d shoot her down too.

    Reply
  63. not a farker

    i can see fark.com and its merry band of idiots has caught wind of this story.

    Reply
  64. Mr. Rich

    It’s October 2007 and you are commenting on a story from April 2006? Is you need to take a jab at Steve Jobs that great and petty?

    Reply
  65. zunk

    Ridiculous, Apple is not at fault in the least. I have a daughter of about the same age and it still doesn’t bother me. Just covering their arses.

    Reply
  66. Lobsterclaw

    This article sounds like it was