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After the Ellen DeGeneres iPhone dust-up, does Apple need to lighten up?

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(Read caption) The talk show host Ellen DeGeneres was chided by Apple after poking fun at the Apple iPhone. How thin is Apple's skin?

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Call it the Apple omerta.

Earlier this week, Ellen DeGeneres aired a short spot gently poking gentle fun at the Apple iPhone. Emphasis on gentle: The whole of the spot revolved around Ellen's inability to send accurate text messages to her wife on the iPhone's cramped touchscreen keyboard. For iPhone users, familiar with the perils of the iPhone text format, it was worth a chuckle. For Apple, it was no laughing matter.

On yesterday's episode of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Ellen explained to viewers that she had been contacted by worried brass at Apple HQ. "They thought that I made it look like the iPhone was hard to use," she explained. And then quickly – with a dash of humor – she retracted her criticism of the iPhone. "It's not hard to use," she said. "I love it. I love my iPad. I love my iPod. I love IHOP."

But Apple, which clearly hoped to win a publicity coup, only succeeded in triggering a backlash. Around the blogosphere today, many critics urged the suddenly-stuffy Apple to chill out. "The recent events make one wonder if Apple needs to get its hands back on the public's pulse," CNET's Greg Sandoval wrote in one typically incredulous post.


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