Apple has this, others do not

Jeffrey Mincey, writing for Mac360:

A customer can be engaged by a product in many ways, but compare the basic customer experience of buying an Apple product at an Apple Store vs. buying any other product anywhere else, and then compare the customer experience when using the product.

Have you ever talked to a Google employee? Walk into an Apple Store and you’re likely to be greeted by an Apple associate multiple times before you leave. If not always technically proficient, they are friendly, courteous, and helpful. Google does not have an experience to match.

For the most part, you won’t have that face-to-face customer experience with Samsung, Google, HTC, Motorola, Dell, Lenovo, or any other tech gadget maker. Microsoft has their own stores, but they’re few and far between, and usually more populated by sales associates than customers.

Apple is not afraid to help customers face-to-face, whether through the initial purchase, personal setup, personal training on new products, or the Genius Bar for technical support. The experience is open and transparent.

This is a huge part of the modern Apple experience. And at its core is the fact that Apple makes the hardware and the software, something Steve Jobs insisted on from the very beginning. This gives Apple complete control over the customer experience.

  • Roger Fingas

    The problem as usual, though, is that you’re paying a huge premium to get this friendly face. It’s telling that you can spend $1,500 and get a VR-ready PC, or spend $2,299 on an iMac, and still end up with something that lacks a full-sized video card (or even a decent mouse).

    • JohnFinch

      We, Apple lovers, are not buying a “full sized video card”, that’s sooo not the reason we buy macs (and BTW I happen to like the mouse). We are willing to pay the premium for the whole holistic experience of a Mac. That is worth every penny. If you don’t get that I don’t know why you are reading this blog?

      • Roger Fingas

        I like some things Apple does. But that doesn’t mean they’re always right, especially in the desktop world. Why, in 2016, is it worth an extra $800 to get performance that’s still worse than a $1,500 PC?

    • JohnDoey

      2005 called and wants it argument back.

      Maybe you love your “VR-ready PC” and maybe you have the I-T skills to make sure you weren’t ripped off when you bought it, but for almost everyone else, buying a PC is a total ripoff. Not just talking about all the well-known problems like no security, but just talking about the fact that the person who sells the PC to the consumer will literally just rip them off with antique hardware and software.

      A friend of mine just replaced his 2011 Windows PC with a 2015 iMac. Even though the PC is from this decade, it literally had an analog video cable (from the 1990’s) going between the digital computer and the digital monitor, which is why the image on the display looked horribly fuzzy for the entire life of the PC The PC was literally running Windows XP from 2001 — that is what it shipped with in 2011. The PC had to be rebuilt by an I-T professional every 12 to 18 months like a car from 1918. These are all things that were left behind by Apple when Windows XP was new.

      And the entire iMac was thinner than the PC’s display, even though the iMac screen is 4x the size. And, my friend is going to see a noticeable reduction in his electricity bill because the PC CPU used more power when it was sleeping than the iMac CPU uses when active.

      I would bet you that the new Microsoft CEO himself would admit that Windows is not consumer-ready, same as he admitted that Internet Explorer was not consumer-ready and replaced it with their new browser. If Microsoft also has a totally new 21st century operating system under development right now, then 3 years after it is launched, I would say that consumers should take a look at consumer products that incorporate it before just buying the Apple product. But right now, you are talking about taking an unpaid job as a part-time I-T pro in order to save a tiny bit of money on the initial purchase.

      • Roger Fingas

        Anyone willing to read a few reviews or do a little research can pick out a good PC in the current era – the same sort of work anyone would do to pick out a good Mac, I hope. I’m also wondering where in the world your friend got his machine, because by that 2011 Win 7 and DVI/HDMI were pretty standard, even on low-end systems. I should know, I’ve used both PCs and Macs throughout my life.

        Have you actually used Windows 10? It’s modern and works just fine. It’s no more or less complicated than El Capitan, once you get used to either’s quirks.

        I’d also point out that it’s not just a “tiny bit of money” people are saving. $800 is enough to get a nice iPad or pay off a few bills.

        • Mo

          “RTFM.” The universal answer of Windows—and now, Android—enthusiasts, for decades.

          • Roger Fingas

            That’s not what I said. If you want to know what kind of specs you need, or what the reviews are like, you do a quick web search. After all, I’m hoping there aren’t many Mac buyers who blindly pick the more expensive models without knowing what the specs mean.

          • Mo

            You’re expecting the average consumer to teach themselves about computer configuration at a tech-enthusiast level. “Do a little research” means expecting everyone to understand something you take for granted, and can’t imagine anyone else not knowing.

            So, yes. That is not only what you said, but your expectation also conveys “my use-case should be universal.”

            All while you gloss over the degree of maintenance and protection a PC requires throughout its life. That $800 evaporates pretty quickly in wasted time and anti-malware subscriptions.

          • Roger Fingas

            Research is easy, and like I said, it’s something Mac buyers should be doing too unless they want to get duped into paying extra. You check reviews on sites like Amazon and CNET, you ask around in real life or on forums like Reddit. Really, a little research is something you should be doing for ANY expensive product.

            “RTFM” stands for “Read the F’ing Manual,” by the way. That’s not what we’re talking about.

            I’ve had my current PC for over two years now. With Adblock, Malwarebytes, and Win 8/10 security, I’ve never dropped a dime on antivirus software. The only maintenance I’ve paid for is a replacement mouse. I upgraded my keyboard and video card, but that’s because I wanted to.

            I am admittedly more knowledgeable than the average shopper, but the point is that PCs aren’t nearly as rickety as you’re trying to portray them. What’s your personal experience using PCs?

          • Mo

            I know what “RTFM” stands for. I remember the attitude it was conveyed with when I first heard it said a couple of decades ago. The term covered a lot of sectarian ground, including the justifiable pride of specialists who’d acquired the technical understanding necessary to do all the things you described.

            I’ve had to work with PCs since DOS was the only OS on them, through several flavors of Windows including NT, 95, XP, and 7. Each iteration was accompanied by myopic claims that they’d “really improved the UI this time.” But all I ever experienced was new chrome on an OS designed by/for engineers, praised by specialists who think “good UI” means “translucent desktop objects.”

            So my personal experience with PCs is largely about having had to make do with mediocre knockoff tools that wasted my employers’ money by wasting my time. I always got way more work done on Macs, starting with my first one in 1990. I tried to learn about how the OS functioned and what it took to upgrade/maintain the hardware—out of purely personal interest—but except for a few years of early enthusiast snobbery, I didn’t expect consumer-level users to understand all I’d learned by calling it “a little research.”

            For a consumer, that would essentially mean adopting someone else’s hobby, all for the sake of acquiring what in effect is a household appliance.

          • Roger Fingas

            You’re still misconstruing what I mean by research. I’m not saying you have to learn Intel and Nvidia’s complete parts lineups, how to reformat a hard drive, or how to configure a motherboard.

            It’s as simple as asking “what’s an SSD,” “what kind of specs do I need to run Photoshop and Grand Theft Auto,” or “what’s the best-rated laptop right now.” The answers are out there, and again, people should be asking these exact same questions even if they refuse to look at anything other than a Mac.

          • Mo

            And I’m saying that even knowing where to begin asking questions is a big hurdle that you keep minimizing.

            You can ask all those questions at a Best Buy or at an Apple store. Which of those places do you believe Aunt Gertrude is more likely to get answers she can understand?

            Yes, the answers are indeed all out there. You could say the same about automobiles, high-end watches, and tailored suits. I guess we’d all better start reading up.

          • Roger Fingas

            We should – it’s a basic strategy for not getting ripped off. Another is never asking the person at the store which one you should buy.

          • Mo

            And right there is the tunnel-visioned cultural divide that helped make the malware industry the success it is today.

          • Roger Fingas

            Oh, c’mon. After a certain point, you can’t help people who won’t be careful with their money. You wouldn’t ask a car salesman if you really need the deluxe package, why should it be any different with computers?

          • Mo

            When a commodity device that was designed for corporate-level IT support is sold to consumers, and shipped unprotected by default—for decades? Seriously?

            All Aunt Gertrude wanted was to email and video chat with her grandkids. And now, months after she got herself the only cheap laptop she could afford, and listening to an afternoon of your impatiently-conveyed, confusing instructions about antivirus and social engineering, her identity’s been stolen and she’s getting emails from sex sites.

            Multiply by millions. Repeat.

            Enjoy your hobby.

          • Roger Fingas

            I think we’re done here. At this point, you’re vastly exaggerating the scope of the PCs problems, including ignoring the built-in malware protection Windows has had for a few years now. Remember also that until Snow Leopard, Macs didn’t have any built-in protection either.

            It should be easy to grasp that a) people need to make informed decisions before they buy, and b) this can lead to people legitimately preferring a Windows PC over a Mac, and being hassle-free. I’m not saying Macs are bad products – most people will probably be satisfied with them, in fact. It’s just that a Windows PC can potentially be a better value, especially on the desktop.

          • Mo

            If Windows PC were a better value to the majority of consumers, might not sales have been declining a bit less sharply over the past few years?

          • Roger Fingas

            That’s not why they’re declining. It’s more about a general shift away from desktops and laptops to phones and tablets – in China, for example, a lot of people use a smartphone as their only computing device. It’s to Apple’s credit that their share of the computer market is growing, but they’re still a minority.

            Also, PCs do not automatically break faster. I’ve heard plenty of complaints from Mac owners having to get something fixed. It’s not any worse than PCs, and I do know people who’ve kept the same Mac for many years, but there’d be little reason to have a Genius Bar if Macs weren’t breaking semi-regularly.

  • From the position of a shy person, I have to say that the prospect of visiting an Apple Store in person (sadly, not everything can be done virtually) is something that causes heart palpitations. There is no line, and walking to the back counter will only get you bounced back to the center of the room, wandering aimlessly until someone notices you. Horrifying. I’m a huge Apple fanboy, but give me a proper queue and a proper counter any day over the chaos of an Apple Store that puts the entire burden on the customer. (I know: wah.)

    • “wandering aimlessly until someone notices you.” You know you’re allowed to walk up to any Apple employee and ask for assistance, right? 🙂

      • I suspect you’re not shy. 😉 But yes, I know you can approach an employee if you manage to find one who’s not dealing with several other customers. But that goes back to what I was saying: mechanisms that place the burden on the shopper make it harder for shy people. I’d pick a queue over that any day. Order and certainty are more precious to me than time. (I understand that I am, clearly, the exception.)

        • “I suspect you’re not shy. 😉 “

          Surprisingly, I am in most situations. I know – no one will believe me. 🙂

  • JohnDoey

    Apple doesn’t make both the hardware and software anymore.

    The hardware is made by Apple, and the software is made by a third party company that consists entirely of people who were either fired by Microsoft or flunked out of Web design college.

    Or at least, that is the result.

  • JohnFinch

    What I’ve always loved about my Apple products, and the reason I left PCs some time ago, is when I turn them on they simply work. Yes, they just work, every time. No reboots, no re-installs. I load a game and it just works.I can’t count how many times I had to fix DLL Hell on my PC. If you need something to simply just work, so you can get on with your life, buy Apple.