UPDATE: I failed to make the distinction below as to *who* would benefit more from Jobs’  non-interactive, non-apology apology letter. Apple, of course. Not users or consumers.

Total control of the user experience (links to David Carr’s Media Equation column in the New York Times, Sept. 10, 2007) is part of Apple’s overall strategy.

The below was, frankly, an off-the-cuff riff. Not as well thought out as it should be. But ahhh… such is the reality of blogging. So if you’ll forgive my somewhat muddled thinking, here’s the original post:

The big news this week is that 1. Apple lowered the price on its new iPhone by US $200 and 2. Steve Jobs is acknowledging the furor from disgruntled early iPhone customers by offering a $100 credit at Apple stores.

Jobs published an open letter on the Apple Web site yesterday. And undoubtedly did a press blitz to let MSM know he was doing so (cf section front story in today’s Wall Street Journal: Steve Jobs Offers Rare Apology, Credit for iPhone and a Forbes article: iSorry).

So what’s the difference between Jobs’ “open letter” and a blog post? Note: the “real” Steve Jobs doesn’t have a “real” blog.

The letter posted to a static page on Apple’s site isn’t interactive.

All we see is what Steve wrote. Jobs mentions “hundreds of emails from iPhone customers who are upset about Apple dropping the price.”

Wouldn’t his apology be that much more credible to consumers if we could see those emails in the form of Comments on his announcement of the price cut?

As it is, Jobs lets “the discussion” loose in the blogosphere where he can’t or, in this case, perhaps chooses not to participate in it — too messy, too free form for his taste. For example, the PC World blog reprints customer Shayna B.’s Open Letter to Steve Jobs (requires free registration) which was posted this morning to an Apple discussion forum. Kudos to Apple for posting Shayna’s letter.

But again, if the discussion were taking place on an official Apple corporate blog, we would be able to read all the viewpoints… and make up our own mind.

And Jobs’ apology would seem more sincere and less scripted.

It’s hard sometimes to nail why “social media” is so effective as PR 2.0. This is one example that [update] on second thought should work raises as many questions as answers as to whether social media is indeed more effective in a crisis. See John Whiteside’s comment below.