Friday, July 26, 2013

Reflections on Apple and Amazon policies and what they can learn from an Enterprise oriented company.

Forgive me, but for once I want to step away from tech oriented posts and want to give my personal thoughts/vents about the way Apple and Amazon do business with their users.
There is a 99% probability for me to be wrong, I know, but allow me to share my feelings. Obviously you can stop reading here and jump off if you're not interested in my point of view.

I am a long time customer of both Apple and Amazon, and I think they should learn a bit from IBM when it comes down to customer satisfaction. I have stumbled into issues that could be solved in 5 minutes, if only they wanted, and let their customers more happy, or at least ME more happy :-)

Apple
I have had several iPhones, iPods and since a year ago an iPad. Is a iPad 1 I bought from a friend, and hence I am now a victim of the "planned obsolescence" policy of Apple. Not only their decision to not allow iOS6 on iPad 1 is prohibiting me to install several apps but, and here is my issue, they maintain on the AppStore only the latest version of the apps. This is crap IMHO. I can't install a previous version of the app compatible with my device. Would be ok if I can't upgrade an app, I have several that require iOS6 for the latest version, but I still can use the version I already have. 
Why do not keep previous versions available ? I know that the answer is: they want force us to dump old devices and buy the latest&greatest, but personally, though I am into technology since many years, I am not one of those who sleeps outside the Apple store for a week in order to buy the latest thing they ship. My personal policy for devices is: as long as they do what I need, I will keep them; I am not going to change for the sake of it, for the urge to be trendy or because Steve or someone else decides I need to. Is MY device and I decide when to dump it.
When I say they need to learn from IBM, I mean they should let their users open to possibility, but not force a change. Before you jump on me, I know too well IBM did that as well, remember I worked there for 19 years; but their policies for support are unrivaled. IBM keeps a software supported for many years, even after they do not develop it anymore and if I need today a copy of, say, db2 version 6 I can still find it on their site and get it (I'll leave it to you to discover when it first shipped). I have a customer that still runs a Domino R5 server, and when I asked him why he did not upgrade the answer was "why should I have to ? It runs and still does what I need it to do. For the purpose I need, I do not care about new features, R5 does it well, so I keep it". I think that this customer will likely buy from IBM again, while on the contrary when the time will come for my iPad to be sunsetted, I will for sure first think about Android devices. Mind you, I am happy with my old iPad feature-wise, so I would have considered another one, but I do not want to go through this again when Cupertino will decide I must change my device.
I know Apple will not go in bankruptcy if a user switches to Android, so keep your stocks in the portfolio :-),  but what Apple is failing to acknowledge here is that what I spend on devices is MY money, I work hard to earn a living and the last thing I want is someone force me to spend MY money according to THEIR plans. There is the Italian State that does it already, and does it too well....

Amazon
I am a Amazon customer since many years, and honestly I have been very happy so far. I bought many things from them, and what I like is that with a single account I can but from Amazon.com or Amazon.it, this gives me a lot of flexibility because some stuff I can find only over the pond.
Here enters the Kindle. I recently bought one, and today chatting with a person I know for professional reasons, I found out he's an author; on his blog and Google + pages there are direct links to his books on Amazon.com ( Ben Langhinrichs if you're curious about his books ). Cool, I click the link, select some books and press the "buy" button.
HA!
A nice warning on their website tells me that, since my device is registered with Amazon.it, I can only buy from there.
WHAT ?
Why can't I buy an ebook from overseas ? Have not Amazon made success because no matter where I live I can buy on the web ? 
The problem I have with this crappy policy is that, as you can imagine, there is a much wider choice of ebooks on the US website.
So Amazon will not let me buy something from them because of this "you're Italian, buy there" policy, which is more absurd if you think it applies ONLY to ebooks. I can still but a paper book, or whatever else I want from Amazon.com .
A comparison with IBM here tells me that maybe Amazon has something to learn when we talk about global markets. I've worked in a team that covered Europe, Middle East and Africa for IBM, when we had issues with a customer, there were no borders; I remember being in Qatar working with people from UK, USA, Denmark and Dubai to solve a problem for a customer.

Bottom line

In one case we have a company who wants my money, and that is OK, but wants me to spend it when they decide, in the other we have a company that seems not to want my money. In both cases the result is a unhappy customer who will likely look elsewhere next time. Another lesson they could learn from IBM is that the "sell and run away" policy doesn't work anymore. Big blue has learned ( or so it seems in recent times ) that is much more difficult to retain a customer rather than acquiring a new one.
In my personal case, this is not a problem at all for Apple and Amazon, I am just one person, but the market for them is made of N persons, they're end users oriented companies, they're not IBM, and if N users get unhappy for whatever reason.....

3 comments:

  1. I understood the meaning of your speech, but from my point of view, you change to improve, if one is happy with what he has, then it's good for him. Are always free choices.

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  2. Enzo, I would be happy with what I have if Apple would let me use it properly. I want to evolve when I am unhappy with the present , not when someone else forces me to do it.

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  3. Roberto, what you say is correct. But I would say that you should have know that Apple would do this, they have a history especially with the iproducts, by buying any Apple product you encourage them to do this, even buying 2nd hand you encourage them. Dont by or use ANY Apple product if enough people do this then it effects them and they will have to change or (hopefully) go out of business.

    What you say about IBM is very true, they keep the products available long after they have been superseded.

    Its such a shame that more IT people dont understand how good IBM and its products are.

    Nick

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