Apple Store Tips I learned from fixing my iMac

my old imac

So I finally decided to have my iMac fixed. My Super Drive has been broken for 6 months, never really thought of fixing it until I bought a Win7 Home Edition on Cyber Monday sales and tried to upgrade my Boot Camp from XP to Win7. Long story short, you just can’t do it without a Super Drive. (with the new iMac, they upgraded the firmware and it’s possible now). So the only option is to visit an Apple store and have the broken Super Drive replaced. The whole process took 4 days and I learned a thing or two that I want to share here:

1. Avoid holidays

The first time I visited Apple store is right after Christmas, before new year. The store is packed, I fought my way to the Genius Bar with my ‘mighty’ 27′ iMac. The genius there ran some diagnosis really quick and told me that replacement will probably take more than 3 days because he has 21 other machines that need fix before me. ‘Holiday season man.’. Then he politely asked me whether I want to take it back now and bring back later when it’s not too busy. What can I say. I fought my way back from Apple store to my car. So lesson 1 learned here: If you want to have something fixed that could take some effort, don’t go on a holiday season. 

2. Heard a long turn-around time? Don’t panic!

new imac

I came in the second time after the new year, now it’s a bit better. This time I went to another Apple store hoping it would be less crowded. The ‘genius’ there was less occupied for sure. I briefed him of the situation and told him that I want to replace the super drive. He checked the serial number of my iMac and told me with a very friendly smile on his face:” We don’t have your part (super drive) available in this store, we’ll have to order it now and then replace it. If ordering it today we’ll likely get the parts 3 days later, then there’s probably 2 to 3 days to fix it.’. I was like shocked by a lightning right there. WHAT? THAT’S  A FREAKING WEEK! But the man was so polite and sincere and smiling, ‘Do you want to take it back or…’. ‘NO!’ Words came out of my mouth without thinking. “No. I think I’ll just leave it here and have you guys fix it.’ Now I kind of accepted that this will be a long time thing and I just don’t want to fight my way back again to my car with the iMac. Too many fights to start a year you know… ‘Great! We’ll take care of it for you.’ The man said cheerfully.

So I went back bare handed and start my life without my iMac, and kept telling myself to not think of it, and time will fly by faster that way. Three days later, still wondering whether the part arrived Apple store or not,  (I wasn’t thinking of the iMac, I was thinking of the part) I got an email from Apple Store: ‘Your iMac is fixed and ready to be picked up.’ I can’t tell you how happy I was when reading that email. I shared the good news with my colleagues. One of my colleague told me, ‘Oh this is just the old sales trick: Under promise and over deliver’. I answered :’Yes, I totally know, expectation management, but I’m still happy!’ So lesson 2 learned here: They might give you a long turn-over time, but might still get it done faster than they promised!

3. It’s heavy? Ask them to help you.

driving in the rain

The last lesson is rather simple. I went to the store for pick up, after all the paperwork is done. Cause it’s a rainy day, and it’s a long way from the store to the parking lot, for a moment I was standing there thinking what is the best route that could avoid all the raining. One Apple store staff noticed it, and offered “Do you want us to help you load your machine to your car?’, ‘Hell yeah!’. So she told me I can drive my car to the nearest mall entrance and they’ll deliver it to my car. I ran to my car and drove it to the entrance, 2 minutes later, they put my iMac on a little cart and load it to my car. So for the heavy stuff, just ask them to help you load, they have the equipment to do it, and you can save some heavy lifting. 

That’s the end of my boring little story. There are reasons why Apple store are so successful. All the tending  to details gave them an edge and by connecting those dots they managed to offer a very pleasant experience of customer support.

 

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Dropbox Pre-install on Samsung Android Smartphones: A new life for prearranged marriage?

Dropbox

Image: by Dropbox

Dropbox and Samsung today announced that some Samsung new top-of-the-line devices, like Samsung Galaxy Grand, Samsung Galaxy Note, etc. will come out with Dropbox pre-installed and deep integrated. These smartphone users that activate a Dropbox account will automatically entitled for a 50GB storage plan (for only 2 years though, check here). This is also a deeper integration than merely a preload, Samsung will use Dropbox as its option for cloud storage, and OS level tweak has will be developed to enable features like thumbnail to offer the best cloud storage service without hindering user’s data plan too much.

The first thing came to mind when I got the news is :’Wow, that’s a good deal! I wish my iPhone has this kind of deal!’. Honestly, a 50Gb upgrade will be so sweet for me. I’m a long time Dropbox user sitting on merely 2.5GB of storage. I really liked their service: Simple, out-of-the-way UI style, reliable and fast quality of service, well thought out and progressive mobile strategy(their cross-platform support for one). The only downside for me is the free storage they gave me is only 2.5GB, far from enough. They’ve always have the referral program that if you recommend one friend to use it, you’ll get 250Mb storage for free, that is a cheap and viral way to expanding their subscriber base,  now they seem to find another way to expose themselves to broader audiences.

Preloaded software/services are widely considered by the mobile generation as the ‘original sin’ from desktop ‘dark age’. True that we all had our ‘good’ time with the shiny new HP laptop we bought came with one hundred kinds of ‘printing software that make your life easier!’ vaporware out of the box. We all had bad taste in our mouth when stuffed with something we don’t like or requested in the first place. But a preload software isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If the preload software is a very useful one and has solid reputation, which will add value to the entire product offering, then why not? All in all, even Apple’s mighty iOS came with quite some preloads and people seems to be OK with it. (Apple Maps anyone?) Like a pre-arranged marriage, if the girl is actually quite hot and is everything you ever wanted, who cares it’s a pre-arranged one or not? You’ll jump without a second if she appears on your Match.com hunting anyway. 😉

I believe this is a win-win-win for all parties. Samsung will provide more value to their smartphone offerings. Dropbox will reach out to more people and develop more subscribers. (Samsung sold 30millions Galaxy S3 and Dropbox only has 100 millions subscribers or so end of 2012). And for our users, who wouldn’t love a 50Gb free storage space on all your computers and mobile devices?

 

Giant’s regret?

nokia-lumia-510

Image: Nokia

Nokia has recently confirmed in an interview that they won’t rule out Android’ as a future OS option just yet. Very interesting development in the mobile industry indeed.

Some said that the move for Nokia to partner with Microsoft (which at that time had no proven success in mobile, no ecosystem strength) is a misstep in the first place. The development we saw today may just be the hard facts starting to kick in. Things might be different should Microsoft and Nokia move faster and deliver more, but for two giants like they are, I’m not surprised they haven’t  managed more.  The entire tech industry’s shift to mobile happens not only in technology front, but also in mind-set. Being mobile means you’ll have to move faster (have more products delivered per year), be more creative (some time as destructive as Apple), be more flexible (enter Samsung, with their hundreds of different types of handsets released per year), to even survive.

Having said that, I still think there’s hope for the Microsoft-Nokia duo:

1. Windows OS is unique in experience

windows-phone-7-metro-490x343-1

Image: Metro UI via AnandTech

No matter how Android fans try to defend it, the Android OS offer similar if not inferior experience like iOS. But Windows  Modern UI (used to be Metro UI, they changed the term to avoid trademark problem) is totally designed from ground up to be unique and it’s a well thought out design at that. The Windows experience feels more ‘fluidly’ in using (surprise surprise!) thanks to all the smooth and cool screen transition animations. The interface is very minimalistic and easy to use, a breath of fresh air on the look and feel of the heavily-chromed Android/iOS UI and fits into Nokia’s conventional UI style quite well. Even the most die-hard Apple fan boy can’t accuse Windows Modern UI being a copycat.

2. Windows OS is patent-infringement proof

The entire industry is keeping a close eye on the ongoing Samsung’s ‘lawsuit of the century’ with Apple, and the attention is very well deserved. Because it will carve out the future shape of mobile OS landscape. If OEMs end up needing to pay a high loyalty fee to use Android OS, then suddenly Microsoft become very appealing as an alternative. Not all company has the deep pocket and thick face to go into a huge law suit war with Apple like Samsung did.

3. Scale wise, Microsoft-Nokia is the only candidate to compete with the Google-Samsung duo.

nokia-microsoft-wp7-1297413404

Scale still counts these days. Without Google’s influence on Internet and Samsung’s huge business machine on developing and delivering hundreds of devices per year, Android won’t be at the place they are today. To match it, similar scale is almost a must. (Look at Palm’s ‘downfall’ as a proof of this point, they have all the correct ingredients, just not big enough to push for ecosystem penetration to a tipping point. ) Combining Nokia’s market share and reputation on mobile device and Microsoft’s influence (mind share) on desktop OS, they definitely should be able to compete head to head with anyone.

Whatever Nokia or Microsoft want to do, they must act fast and don’t ever look back. Nokia might be the no.1 mobile device manufacturer and Microsoft the no.1 desktop OS, but those are history and holds very little credit on a fast paced, ever-changing mobile industry.

Business encounter

When building a business relationship in the first place, whether it would be a long term one or not matters much. If both parties consider the biz relationship a valued one and tend to develop it into a long-term mutual beneficial strategic partnership, usually business would be easy to negotiate and errors in execution of project more tolerable, so the error margin in contract negotiating larger. For long-term good, people would usually look longer and come up with more beneficial agreement for mutual good, rather then just ‘milk each other’ as best as possible.
On the contrary, when people pay no attention to long-term relationship to begin with, usually they’ll tend to yield every penny from each other whenever possible, taking every advantage they could find on contract, and getting very picky and strict when an error occurs.
That being said, there is no value or moral judgment on both attitude, but the information above will help us evaluate and counter different biz relationships. For customer really interested and find it worth giving a long term investment, they will tend to compromise on minor terms of contract, tolerate more mistakes. This is kind of bargain power we have, and should be use wisely rather than abuse it. If we have the same thing in mind, we’ll make it a flexibility that we could make use of it for more add-value, like push through some weakness, make them take some risks with us that usually won’t be allow for normal operation etc, and at the same time, deliver and treat them with fair attitude and give them what they want most. For those just treat us like a ‘cash cow’ and wanna milk us as much as possible, that doesn’t necessarily means you can’t make deal with them , just to pay more attention to the detailed terms of contract and make it very clear what you bought and what you’ll get from the deal, and preventing any future arguments from happening.
Customer’s true attitude and intension of biz relationship if of essence, from the first place biz relationship begin , we should begin to observe, analyze and make judgment, and regulate our negotiating/manipulating strategy of the project accordingly.

So It Started…

Welcome to Tech Wave 2.0!
This blog is created to share some of our great discussions one interesting and intriguing topics of our beloved mobile industry. Also some interesting write-ups/news I found online about the business.
Going forward, expecting more original posts and quotes to come. Hope this will help those who also in this industry be more informed or resourceful.
Stay tuned.