On July 10, The Wall Street Journal broke the news that Apple (AAPL) would delist all 39 of its desktops, laptops, and monitors from a voluntary, green-electronics registry called EPEAT. Just seven days later, The Journal reported that Apple will relist the previously deregistered products.
The sudden change of heart likely arose from the storm of controversy that followed the move. Hard-core Apple fans vented their wrath, and the city of San Francisco said it would stop buying Apple products for official use.
What were They Thinking?
When the story broke, Apple was vague on why it was leaving EPEAT. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple told EPEAT it was delisting the products because of "changes to its 'design direction.'"
Ironically, Apple helped found EPEAT. It was a coordinated effort between electronics manufacturers, the government, and eco-activist groups. EPEAT certification is an industry stamp of approval that indicates that electronics are more energy efficient than competing products and are also easier to recycle.
The move to delist and risk angering the eco-friendly powers that be is all the more confounding because Apple recently made a great stride in the area of social responsibility: In February, the company invited the Fair Labor Association to begin inspections of its overseas factories.
Obviously, They Weren't Thinking
Of course, that invitation to the FLA was made only after the consumer-electronics giant had weathered another storm of controversy, this time surrounding working conditions at its factories in China. So maybe that's the answer to this puzzle: Apple will be socially responsible when its back is against the wall.
It was a doozy, the kind of error one of the best-run and most successful commercial enterprises in the world shouldn't be making.
John Grgurich is a regular contributor to The Motley Fool, and owns no shares in Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and creating a bull call spread position on Apple.