Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why Apple Computers Suck: A Final Letter to Steve Jobs

Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this podcast are just that, one person’s views and opinions shared freely on the internet while exercising the freedom of speech guaranteed in the United States Constitution. 

In today's podcast, I talk about how Why Apple Computers Suck in A Final Letter to Steve Jobs who announced that he'd be retiring from the company.  In it, I detail my experience with visiting my first Apple retail store, and writing two (2) letters to Steve Jobs that were never acknowledged.  Here's what happened:

I had been ruminating over sharing this experience on this blog, but I never seemed to find the time to get around to it, but today, upon hearing the news of Apple CEO Steve Jobs resigning, I thought it was the perfect time to share my story and express both my disappointment in the brand and my hope that the new face of Apple does a better job with their company’s operations.

The very first computer that I ever got was an Apple that someone gave to me in high school.  I was ecstatic!  I was even more excited when I joined my high school's newspaper and Macintosh computers were the devices of choice.  I took my love of Apple Computers with me to college (it was 50/50 PC to Mac ratio my freshman year), and while I embraced PCs on a daily basis out of necessity as a Business Student, it was my love of Macs, and my ability to seamlessly work on both platforms that got me a job in tech support on campus.

As a person of "limited financial means" for most of my adult life, I was never able to actually PURCHASE a Mac (though I used them regularly at work and to complete school work), and I vowed that when the day came (and I had the money), I'd finally get the chance to "deck out" my home IT setup with Apple products galore!  I anxiously waited for this moment for more than a decade.  Through undergrad, grad school, crazy jobs, and now my own venture, I've eagerly waited and anticipated the moment I could afford to buy the type of Mac products I wanted!  It was going to be an awesome!

A little while back, I stood on the cusp of a major move forward in terms of finances both personally and professionally.  With the next round of funding for my business that was due to come in soon, I could FINALLY afford the home and business IT setup I've always wanted.  As such, I went to my local Apple Store in the Green Hills Mall in Nashville, TN for the first time EVER.  Ironically, I happened to go to the store right after I left the bank talking to a loan officer (i.e. I was dressed pretty snazzy pants suit).

I walked into the store and was immediately "smitten" with all the wonderful Apple products strewn about!  Though merely window-shopping on this day, I was making mental notes of exactly what I'd have in my soon-to-be-renovated home office as well as my new office space "in the city".  By the time I had walked the aisle and landed on the other side of the store by the $3,800 27-inch, 2.8 GHz Quad-Core iMac, I realized that NOT ONE employee in the store had said a word to me.  I looked around, and saw (quite surprisingly) that there were almost TWICE as many Apple employees as there were customers, so this struck me as REALLY ODD that none of the people "in Apple attire" had even bothered to say "Hi" or "Welcome to the Store" as so many contrived sales people do in retail locations.  Perhaps being friendly and welcoming isn't an Apple Retail Store thing, but again, I wouldn't know this since this was my first visit.

I wasn't really sure what I was looking for, but I could have benefited from having SOME attention from one of the many employees that were there and not working with other customers.  I continued to walk around the store, then I got the strange feeling that I WAS BEING AVOIDED!  When I walked near two employees, they actually managed to move away from the direction where I was headed!  As I had the opportunity to look around the store (unencumbered), I noticed that all of the sales people were pretty young and there were at least 4 minority workers (1 of which was Black).  While I continued to make my way to the exit door I did some mental calculations to figure out that their "rate of diversity" was 1 to 4 (minority to white) and there were only 2 female workers making their "gender diversity score" only 1 to 8.  This was simply something I noticed since I had LOTS of free time since there was no one around to ask any of the many questions I had about the products that I'd been toying with since I came into the store.

I started to look around to see if perhaps I was engaging in some kind of behavior that said "I don't need help nor do I want to be approached", and I realized I was doing nothing that was any different from what other customers were doing: checking out gadgets and accessories and computers.  The only difference was, there were no overly enthusiastic Apple employees helping me figure out how their then-new Multi-Touch mouse worked (a tutorial of which would have been quite welcomed).  The two most glaringly different things about me versus other customers in the store is that I had on business attire (after having just met with my banker across the street), and I was an African American woman.  True, there was an African American employee in the store, busy helping other customers (not that I'd expect some sort of same race-based service), so I simply HOPED that the neglect I was receiving from other employees at the store was based on the fact that I "looked too PC" (if that's at all possible). 

Needless to say, I am sorely let down by my first Apple Store experience.  I felt slighted and ignored, and as if my money wouldn't have been welcomed there, even if I were willing to shell out the $3800 it would take to own the 27-inch, 2.8 GHz Quad-Core iMac I was eyeing!  In all, this is a terrible personal and emotional blow to me, having been an "unofficial" Mac aficionado for years.  It was always my intention to buy a Mac as soon as I could afford the one I wanted, but now after this most recent experience, I'm starting to feel as though doing so would be like shooting myself in the foot!  I admit, I enjoy Macintosh computers, and I prefer them over Windows-based systems.  Part of the "window-shopping" I was doing was in preparation for an influx of capital due to my business for equipment purchases, and I wanted to see how I could change my IT needs to a primarily Mac-based system.  But right now, I just don't feel that I can do that.

I know in this day and age, it was rather unconventional for someone to actually WRITE A LETTER as opposed to sending an email, but I felt so strongly about my experience that I actually wrote a letter and mailed it to Steve Jobs on the day this incident happened.  Six months after not getting a response, I sent a second letter, this time being sure to send a copy to their communications department, so that hopefully the letter wouldn’t be missed.  Still nothing.  Not even some horribly generic form letter stating that my letter had been received and would garner a response at a later date.  Then, a few weeks ago, I read a headline online proclaiming Apple to be the richest company in the world!  That was somewhat disheartening, especially given my deflating experience with the company.

So that’s my story of Why Apple Computers Suck in my Final Letter to Steve Jobs detailing my experience and my disappointment.  This was quite a letdown after more than a decade of affection I've had for the company and its products. 

I wish my Apple Store experience could have been better.

Good Riddance Mr. Steve Jobs

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