@Google has 8 million followers on Twitter. @Microsoft has 4 million. Why does the most valuable U.S. company insist on not joining ?
@Google has 8 million followers on Twitter. @Microsoft has 4 million. @Samsung and @Yahoo have a million each.
@Apple has a measly 26,000.
Before shouting in the social streets that the world's largest tech company has a lower Klout score than you, take into consideration that Apple isn't really on Twitter. The handle with its name has never tweeted, followed a user, filled out a bio or updated the default avatar. For all we know, the inactive account doesn't even belong to Apple.
Why does the most valuable U.S. company by market cap insist on not joining Twitter?
For the record, Apple manages Twitter accounts that represent divisions within the company: @iTunesMusic has 5.4 million followers; @AppStore has 2.4 million; @iTunesTrailers has 2.3 million; and another nine accounts have a combined 2.5 million followers.
CEO Tim Cook even tweets to a fan base of 400,000.
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Though Apple has more than 13 million Twitter followers on various accounts, not one represents the official voice of the company.
Can broadcasting its message in 140 character increments to tens of millions of people at a time not benefit such an enterprise?
"Tim Cook is on Twitter, and that is good enough for now," Belus Capital analyst Brian Sozzi told CNBC. "Apple has nothing to gain by creating an account."
Apple has nothing of real interest to tweet, he added.
"It's on a set schedule in terms of new product intros," Sozzi said. "If they deviate from their schedule, the market will read it as Apple succumbing to market pressures.
"There is no way that Apple is going to take questions via the Twitter universe for its notoriously secretive earnings call," he added. "Apple isn't going to be like Starbucks and run promoted tweets offering dollars off a product for a limited time. Apple is a premium experience all around, you go to Apple, they do not go to you."
Perusing the other social networks, Apple has 1.8 million YouTube subscribers to which it provides videos and 1.4 million LinkedIn fans receiving notifications of job openings.
It has 10 million Facebook fans but has yet to share any news or interact on the world's largest social network. Facebook users have checked in more than 146,000 times at retail stores, though, according to metrics on its fan page.
In digging through Apple's social presence, or lack thereof, a clear message emerges: The company wants command of all communication with outsiders.
Apple's 41 clips on YouTube have garnered millions of views but generated zero comments. Why? Comments are disabled, leaving viewers to be nothing more than that.
"Twitter is an ecosystem that Apple can't control, and Apple likes to control everything," Sozzi said.
Ironically, in the description of one of those videos Apple recently wrote, "We're humbled and inspired by what people do with iPad. So we set out to capture some of their stories. What will your verse be?"
Instead of allowing fans to submit comments under the YouTube video, it links back to the Apple site, where the user can't weigh in. It was a rhetorical question, or one the company prefers you answer with how you use its devices.
Venture capitalist and Twitter investor Fred Wilson wrote regarding a popular website that shut down its comment section, "You can turn off the comments, but you can't turn off the discussions."
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And social discussion about Apple-whether or not it joins Twitter or opens up conversation on its YouTube channel-has always been plentiful.
A report from Topsy (a social media analytics company recently bought by none other than Apple) shows that since Twitter launched almost eight years ago, 422,000 tweets mentioning the @Apple handle have been sent, many into a social black hole. Celebrities who have used the inert handle include Ashton Kutcher, Marissa Mayer, Kevin Hart and Donald Trump.
There are also dozens of unofficial Apple accounts on Twitter. The highly popular @iPhoneTeam-run by Ethervision, a mobile application development company in Chicago-tweets breaking tech news to more than 380,000 Apple fanatics. Add in the accounts belonging to blogs dedicated to tracking Apple's moves and the number of accounts is in the hundreds.
As the company continues to generate social buzz with endless iTV, iWatch and iCar rumors, does it even need to get on the Twitter train?
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"Apple is so popular and obsessed over, it may be the only company that wouldn't benefit from a corporate Twitter handle," said Jason Stein, founder and president of the social media agency Laundry Service.
Some are convinced that Apple made the right call in not boarding the social train.
"If I woke up one morning and saw Apple running @Apple, my immediate thoughts would be are they going to start running special product deals and if so, why?" Sozzi said. "Is something not selling right? Has Apple officially lost its cool?"
Neither Apple nor @Apple responded to an email and tweet asking for comment.
-By CNBC's Eli Langer. Follow him on Twitter at @EliLanger.
image: © lemagit