We're Not In Kansas Anymore

Bhuler, anyone…

iPad 2: good product, bad business

with 16 comments

I just returned from the Apple Store at the Short Hills Mall in New Jersey. I arrived at the mall at 5.20 AM to wait in line for my chance to buy an iPad 2. I was number 27 in line. I did not get one. The line went to 81. My wife had been there for the past two days, and both days she was shut out. She was number 39 yesterday, with no luck.
For a revered brand, Apple is risking customer will in the way they are managing the iPad launch. When you call, the stores cannot tell you when or how many they will get in. Even the night before when you call they cannot tell you what they are getting at the store less than ten hours later. If it’s coming from California, they have to know what is coming at that point, but the company is not telling their stores and their stores are simply telling people they don’t know. Does not sound like the operations of a company that makes sophisticated computer products and runs one of the most trafficked websites online, does it?
There are several people who have waited in line multiple days and still do not get product. I was with 70 angry customers this morning. Only ten people got iPads – there were twenty available and the first ten people – many of whom looked like resellers for eBay or were shipping them overseas – all bought two. Apple’s policy, we were told, was to sell two. The 70 customers in line requested that the manager not follow policy, but he would not listen.
By the calculation of someone in our line today, Apple sells 14,000 iPads a day through their stores – at that rate about 3.3 million a year. What they are not counting is the 70 people at each store each day who walk away frustrated. For their 700 stores, that equals 49,000 day. They are frustrating four times as many people as they are delighting. Ouch!
If this goes on for a month – and at this rate that is conservative – that will lead to 1.5M frustrated customers. Think about that, one the greatest brands in the world is now going to have more than a million people saying why they are not fans.
This was preventable and manageable if the company thought about the customer experience. The manager this am said to me and the other frustrated customers “that is the policy.” The company that reinvented computing now focusing on policy. Hmmm. He said that “this happens with every launch.” So does that mean they knew they were going to create all this ill will? Hmmm. I even said why not give every one in line a $5 itunes gift card. “Sir, I just can’t go do that” he said. Would have cost $350 and been the best money he spent – but it was outside of policy. Hmmm.
We’ll all go buy an iPad. My wife wants to try again on Monday. I am giving up. I will order online. But whether I like the iPad or not when I get it, my feeling toward Apple will never be same. They are big, they follow policy, they are not focused on customers. They make great products, but not happy customers.


Written by markhosbein

March 19, 2011 at 7:54 am

Posted in Uncategorized

16 Responses

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  1. Hose — maybe you need an Apple 12-step program to release you from the need to have their latest toy?


    March 19, 2011 at 8:16 am

  2. […] This is a guest post by Mark Hosbein, a potential iPad 2 customer. Mark has been unable to get an iPad 2 after several days waiting in line. He expresses the frustration felt by many. As we’ve reported, Apple continues to see long lines for the iPad 2 a week after launch day. Mark’s piece was originally published here. […]

  3. […] This is a guest post by Mark Hosbein, a potential iPad 2 customer. Mark has been unable to get an iPad 2 after several days waiting in line. He expresses the frustration felt by many. As we’ve reported, Apple continues to see long lines for the iPad 2 a week after launch day. Mark’s piece was originally published here. […]

  4. I have come to similar conclusions. Timing is everything: this week I decided to buy a Nook Color and root it, going with an Android tablet…at least for the time being. Here is my story, posted just this afternoon:


    Hope it’s helpful to someone. I’ll probably still wind up with an iPad 2…but this really is one sweet device. Enjoy!

    Mark Heckler

    March 20, 2011 at 7:31 pm

  5. Mark, totally agree with you on all counts. I’ve had nothing but issues with Apple’s customer service since going total Apple four years ago. Definitely the proverbial love-hate relationship. Hooked on the products, but the smugness imparted to their store employees, the condescending tone in the phone “help” plus their “policies,” (as you noted) and their planned obsolescence is over the top. Still wish I had more stock though. How sad is that.


    March 21, 2011 at 8:22 am

    • I have had great experience with their help.

      I ran into a problem with my Airport express. They spent over 30 minutes with me going over things and waiting while I rebooted the device several times.

      Condescending? If you happen to be an experienced user it may seem that way. But you really need to understand, the majority of callers are not very experienced. The rep you speak to does not know you personally, and cannot see you. He/she needs to treat you as if you know nothing, so that you go through the procedures quickly, step by step. I can see how some might take this as condescending, but helping someone over a telephone line, when you cannot see what they see or are doing, is not easy. (I have done so myself.)


      March 21, 2011 at 11:54 am

  6. The problem with your math is that, as you’ve seen, they’re going to frustrate the same 49,000 people every day. And eventually everyone will get an iPad, at which point they will forgive Apple for everything bad and promise never to say anything mean again (trust me, I’ve been there).

    It’s a dysfunctional e-lationship.


    March 21, 2011 at 9:57 am

  7. Dear Mr. Markhosbein: There is a physical limit to production capacity. I am sure that Apple contracted for all of the production capacity that it could find that met its exacting standards for quality. But even so, there is a limit on how many iPad 2s manufacturers of such high quality can produce in any given period of time. The initial demand for the iPad 2 exceeded all prudent expectations and exhausted that production.

    I am sure that Apple was working with its suppliers to replenish the supply of iPads 2 as quickly as possible. But on the very day of the iPad 2′ launch, there was a little disruption in the country, Japan, where some of Apple’s critical suppliers are located. You may have heard about it: The record setting magnitude 9.0 earthquake, which was followed by an epic tsunami and a resulting nuclear disaster. The Japanese, those self-centered folks, have decided that fighting to prevent a nuclear disaster from becoming a biblical catastrophe; feeding, housing, and clothing their displaced people; caring for the sick and injured, and generally working to recover from their multiple disasters is more important than producing parts for the iPad 2.

    Now, I know how important you are and how essential the iPad 2 is to your existence, but until we can get the Japanese to stop their self-centered focus on survival and once again focus on serving Apple and its oh so important customers, I beseech you to show a little mercy and patient with Apple, which, after it cares for the needs of its own employees in Japan, is working to get you and your wife an iPad 2 as soon as possible.

    Chanson de Roland

    March 21, 2011 at 9:59 am

    • My apologies for what seems to offend you. The point was more about their customer service philosophy. I few people have invoked the issues overseas in support of their commentary. And of course my math was off. I ended up ordering on line but a lot of people have said they did find the lines frustrating, so hopefully someone at Apple reads this and learns – companies can always improve. Best of luck, thanks for your thoughts.


      March 21, 2011 at 11:23 am

  8. Mark, Apple has — according to wikipedia — 323 stores. It took me about 20 seconds to check on that fact. Apple does NOT have 700 stores.


    March 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    • I was counting on secondary retailers as well, but fewer unhappy people are a good thing-thanks for pointing out!


      March 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm

      • ok, actually you make a good point, secondary retailers SHOULD count, in this instance. My apologies.


        March 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm

  9. […] is still simmering a bit over the poor supplies of the iPad 2. The site comments on an article by Mark Hosbein whose wife failed to get an iPad after trying for 2 days. Hosbein is critical of Apple and (this […]

  10. […] This is a guest post by Mark Hosbein, a potential iPad 2 customer. Mark has been unable to get an iPad 2 after several days waiting in line. He expresses the frustration felt by many. As we’ve reported, Apple continues to see long lines for the iPad 2 a week after launch day. Mark’s piece was originally published here. […]

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