When I received my very first iPod as a birthday gift several years ago, I remember feeling like I was finally on my way to gaining membership into the exclusive Apple club. At the time, I lived a mere 20 minutes from Cupertino – where the technology giant is headquartered – and Apple buzz was difficult to escape. But as a newspaper reporter just starting out (read: poor), keeping current with Apple products was pretty much impossible. This bummed me out. Apple was so COOL! So hip! So trendy! So “with it.”
As the years have progressed, I’ve been able to add a few more Apple products to my repertoire. The thing is, though, I still don’t feel like I’m part of the club, and this is why: Apple seems not to want me in it. What other conclusion should I reach when I look around and see rules and restrictions everywhere? I can’t always access the content I want, and it often seems that I’m violating this term of use or that. The resulting thought: “Gee, I feel alienated. Do I really want to be a part of this club?”
I bring it up because of this recent opinion piece by David Gewirtz of ZDNet Government, a technology news analysis website. Gewirtz argues that Apple could learn a few lessons – five, to be precise – from Amazon regarding the iPad, which makes its public debut April 3:
1. Don’t be afraid of your competition, co-opt them and profit from them instead.
2. Don’t restrict what your customers can buy.
3. Don’t restirct how and where your customers can use what they buy from you.
4. Be predictable and set clear guidelines for how you’re going to behave.
5. If you make a boneheaded mistake, apologize and then explain what your policy will be into the future.
Why Amazon? Because there’s a company that’s capitalized on competition and allowed customers the freedom to do what they want with the technology they want. The upshot is happier consumers and more profitable sales.
<p style="margin-bottom: 6pt;" class="MsoNormal">Gewirtz further posits that though the iPad could potentially be a fantastic universal device basically free of restrictions, it likely won't be. Apple just doesn't seem to be down with that action.</p><p style="margin-bottom: 6pt;" class="MsoNormal">In any case, as I mentioned, the iPad will be available in all 221 Apple retail stores and most Best Buy stores across the country this Saturday. So, I guess we'll see, won't we?</p>