Apple Store Shenanegans

December 3, 2009

Dear Apple:

A couple of days ago I went to the new Apple store on the upper west side of Manhattan.Pretty.

On the main floor I asked about the PCI/SD slot in the MacBook Pro line. The PCI slot is used to attach peripherals, in my case to bring in footage from P2 cards into the computer.

First an employee told me that all MacBook Pros had SD slots now. (Incorrect info #1)When I asked why the 17 inch model had a ‘door’ covering the (larger) slot than the 15inch and 13inch, his partner said, “no the 17 inch has the pci slot and the other two have SD slots.” When I mentioned what a bummer this is for those who want the PCI slot in the 15 inch, they said apple had done research that showed that “less than 1% of users took advantage of the pci slot.”

My response to you, Apple, is this: “Less than 5% of all computers in the world are Apple. Shouldn’t you just stop making computers?” I would argue that a significant portion of Apple’s customers throughout their history (especially in lean times) have been video and audio professionals. Just like there is a good business in selling 5% of the world’s computers, there should be a business in selling the tools that professionals need. It’s the ability of apple products to push innovation by users that in my mind has helped keep apple relevant.

It seems to me that this has been a trend with you guys over the last few years. Now that you’ve had a taste of the mass market in your iPod’s and iPhone’s, you’re starting to see the apeal of Lowest Common Denominator thinking. PC makers have been thinking this way from the beginning, but Apple seemed to pride themselves on ‘thinking different.’ I’ve read that NO focus groups or other market ‘testing’ was done on the iMac or it’s add campaign; now customer ‘surveys’ show people prefer shiny screens instead of matte ones and sd slots to PCI, so… Give ’em what they want.

I was also at your store looking for some accessories. Downstairs where the accessories live, I couldn’t find an employee to ask about cables and headphones. They were mostly working with customers at ‘one-on-one’ instruction tables. Despite 10 minutes of walking around the floor and up to employees who weren’t with customers but who were talking amongst themselves, none asked if I needed anything.

I finally asked someone behind the register counter for help, but it became clear that she didn’t know what an RCA cable was and whether they had any in stock other than the $25(!?) one I had found myself. (She tried looking it up on Apple’s web site but didn’t have much luck. I told her not to bother as I could do that myself at home). She also didn’t know the details about bluetooth implementation in the iphone; specifically whether the iphone supported stereo bluetooth connections. (She said they do not (incorrect info #2); apple’s website says they do. ) I wanted to know why some bluetooth stereo headsets you were selling in the store came with a plug in module to attach to the iphone/ipod touch if the iphone supported stereo bluetooth in the first place. So all in all, not a very impressive performance by the apple store employees in my experience.

Maybe because it’s a new store you still have to get everyone up to speed. Here’s to hoping.

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