Last night, my family and I went to our local mall. My wife wanted a new watch band for her Apple Watch.
The Apple Store is always busy…and full of life. They have tons of staff…some just stand around because they have so many. But the store is always full of people.
My wife looked and found the band she wanted in the display case, but it was not on the shelf. She asked an Apple store employee for help, and he immediately produced the band she wanted. He scanned the bar code, she used Apple Pay, and she was done. She was now the owner of a new Apple Watchband. She put her new band on, right there in the store, and we were on our way. Of note, even she did not have Apple Pay, she could have used our Apple ID account to pay, or a credit card, as all the employees have iPods equipped with card readers.
Excellent service, quick and easy. The way I think a shopping experience should be.
Fast forward about 40 minutes. My son had earned a gift from doing chores around the house. We went to Gamestop, and they did not have the game he wanted. I remembered there was a Microsoft Store in this particular mall, so we headed there.
Microsoft Stores are nice. They are setup well. Lots of stations to try stuff out. There were people playing Xbox One game. It was a cool vibe. He found his game and we looked for someone to help us.
That’s when the problems began.
It took us awhile to get help from one of the five employees. When we did, he led us to a payment station. He started the checkout process by telling us to wait a few minutes while the system booted up.
Yes. He actually said that.
So, after all that, we were ready to pay. I got my card out, and was standing in front of the reader. I was ready to stick my card in the chip reader when he told me to wait, the system was not ready. Then, he said wait for the screen on the card reader to go black.
It never did, and finally crashed.
We repeated this process one more time until he found a POS system that worked. The entire process was about 15 minutes and I was extremely frustrated. In fact, that was the first and last purchase I will make in a Microsoft Store. It was too hard to buy something.
The two very different experiences I had last night are a perfect metaphor for Apple and Microsoft. One cares very deeply about your overall experience, one just wants cash.
Given the market value of both the companies, you can see which philosophy is winning. And it is a perfect example of why I made the switch to Apple, and why most people hate computers and technology. While I am sure that both Microsoft and Apple believe in technology as a tool to enhance our lives, Microsoft continues to treat it as a means to an end, and that end is profit. NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT…in fact, I am all for making profit. But Apple has solved the problem of doing both. By investing time and money to making the end user experience “insanely awesome”, they have taken away much of the intimidation people feel about tech.
I know there are arguments to be made for Microsoft. They use hardware from a lot of different vendors. They have to make their OS work with all of them. But Apple made a bet years ago do to all that themselves, and it has paid off in billions.