HOW APPLE COMPUTER PUNISHES IT'S RELIGIOUSLY LOYAL FANS
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The Apple brand, like the Disney brand, or even Scientology, is not just a product. These brands are regarded as a religion by their fans. In a previous blog post I commented on how Microsoft ignores it's own customers and tries to tell them what they will like. Apple does something different. It gives the customer what they want, as evidenced by all the excitement every time a new Iphone comes out. But then it totally uses it's customers once they are inside Apple's "gated community." If Microsoft's Windows platform might be too rambunctious and open then Apple products are the opposite. And, like an abused girlfriend, Apple customers keep on coming back for more.
HIGH MARKUP ON MACS
Apple phones are a bit pricey but, thanks to mass production, they are still competitive. Mac computers, however, are pointlessly expensive. Just look at the comparison at right. A Windows machine is $3,400 and the similar mac is a whopping $9,500! And they have the same capabilities because there is no "must have" program that only runs on Macs. Some of my clients have been burned because they bought Mac laptops when they had more money and the economy had not yet collapsed. Now eight years later the thing is breaking down and they can't afford the many thousands of dollars it would take to replace them. I got a cheap Windows laptop for $400 once but Mac users have an investment in software and accessories that makes it hard for them to switch brands.
Apple has already been criticized even by fans as having inadequate warranties. Decades ago they boasted that their Apple ][ and Mac computers were well made yet they gave only a three month warranty. Magazines at the time like MacWorld and MacUser railed for years over these bad warranties. A magazine is a thing made of paper and you turn pages in it. It's like a tablet that gives you paper cuts and ink stains. In 2012 Apple had to stop selling Applecare in parts of Europe due to warranty problems.
And if you buy your Apple product at a non-Apple store the warranty is not activated by default. If you buy the same thing at the Apple store the activate your warranty at the time of purchase. Some also suspect that their phones are built only to last slightly beyond the warranty period. After that something is likely to wear out or break.
THE APPLE STORE
Where I live in the Hollywood/Beverly Hills area there are several Apple stores and they are almost always vibrant, busy places where customers obviously enjoy going or the would not be seen there in such numbers. Sony and Microsoft both tried retail stores like this and flopped terribly. They just didn't get retail like Apple does. Unfortunately some of the crowds waiting there are in line to pick up repaired equipment. Often waits can be long at the "Genius Bar" or even to talk to an employee. There are just so many people there asking questions or using computers for free. And just because you have made an appointment does not mean they will be able to see you at the scheduled time. Best thing to do is go early the first hour that the store opens.
Another reason for the crowds is that Apple makes it's computers in such a way that only the Apple Store can repair them properly. See below "Why Apple products are hard to open." Apple store workers are religiously devoted and put up with the difficulties because they adore the company. Competition is great for jobs at the stores which means Apple does not have to pay them that much and there is very little opportunity for advancement. Some of my Apple clients enjoy going to the Apple store while others consider it a fate worse than death.
The Mac OS is known for constantly bombarding it's users with password requests. While that might be better security it is not very hard to bypass the passwords. They mostly keep the cleaning lady or the kids out of your computer. But even if someone just wants to download an update to Mac OS (as is their legal right as a purchaser) they still have to log onto the Itunes Store, type in their name and password and make sure they have a credit card on file even if the software they want is free. It makes it difficult to spend money on their offerings and I've seen it leave my clients furious that they can't get something done because they don't remember passwords and logon names.
PRODUCTS A CLOSED SYSTEMIn conclusion there are both benefits and drawbacks to Apple's closed system. Some people like to live in gated communities and some don't. There is no right answer, but remember that once you chose Apple you are under their control. If you live in a rural area the nearest Apple store could be hours away by car.