Apple Store Does What No Android Retailer Can

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-08-24 Print this article Print

I realize this blog is called Google Watch, not Apple Watch, so please bear with me.

I've come to the point in life that when I buy household or consumer electronics machines I tend to take care of them. When they break early, they tend to collect dust, unless it's a coffee machine or some other gotta-have-it gadget.

I don't perceive my daughter's iPod touch 4 as a coffee machine, though she forcefully disagreed. And so came the impasse in March, when she dropped her life's blood device on the fireplace and shattered the glass face, having only had it since Christmas. Marvel of engineering that the iPod touch is, it still worked, but we knew it was only a matter of time before the device FAILED.

We shelved it, with a promise of getting it fixed before the school year started. Months passed, we moved, got a dog. The device gathered so much dust, an electronic heirloom wallowing at the bottom of a cedar credenza drawer.

Fast forward to 10 a.m. Sunday, and at this point I switch to my wife's point of view. She was determined to get it fixed at an Apple store, and so she called the one closest to us in Stamford, Conn.

She got a customer service rep on the line and managed to secure an 11:20 a.m. slot at the famed Genius Bar, a name that makes this Android phone, tablet and Samsung Chromebook owner roll his eyes every time he hears it.

My wife and daughter got to the store around 11:15 and were shocked to see more than 200 people milling about. My wife told me she immediately worried they would wait to get the iPod fixed, but a customer service rep came up to them, asked them for their names and ushered them to a Genius Bar rep.

The Genius Bar rep noted their names, and that the device was indeed owned by us, according to our daughter's name, which was associated with her iTunes account.

This woman, whom we'll call Ann, inspected the cracked iPod, took it in the back with her and came out with a brand new iPod touch 4.

Normally at this point, you have to go get in line and pay. But, in the hallmark of Apple CEO Steve Jobs' obsession with super customer service, she rang up the replacement on the spot. It cost $99. I'm sure I'm not the only dad in this world who paid $300 for an iPod 4.

Better yet, when my wife logged into my daughter's account from the new device, she was able to click a couple of buttons and retrieve her 60 or so music downloads and other applications, all of which had become associated with iCloud. It took all of 5 minutes. i

The point of this anecdote is not that my wife was bowled over by the great customer service at the Apple Store in Stamford, which has received very mixed reviews:

Apple store.png

My point is that I realized that if something similar happened to my Motorola Droid X, which currently runs Android 2.3 "Gingerbread," I wouldn't receive the same experience trying to get it fixed.

I'd have to go to a Verizon store, wait for an hour or however long it would take -- these stores are always, infamously understaffed -- explain the problem and likely leave the phone with them to send out to get fixed at Motorola or wherever the fixing takes place.

There's no way that I would take my shattered Droid X into a store and walk out with a new one for only $99.

So it occurred to me that the 52 percent of U.S. users who bought an Android phone in the second quarter are at the mercy of their carriers running interference for their OEM partners.

What do I propose? An Android store, one carrier and OEM agnostic so that customer service people were on hand to treat all devices equally and issue replacements or do fixes on the spot, and let users walk out with devices whose content is backed up to Google's cloud.

It's a beautiful value proposition, but unless you own and iOS device, you're probably nor going to get it. I'm a little jealous.

Of course, the way these Android suits are going, it may be a moot point anyway. |

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