Apple Customer Service

I have been very satisfied with both generations of iPhones to date. But when there is a problem I have been even more impressed with Apples customer service.

A few days ago I dropped my new 3G on the hard floor at work. I have dropped my iPhones (Previous and current) numerous times and the worst that has happened is a dent or a scratch. But this time the phone landed face down on the floor and shattered the glass like a windshield hit by a Mack truck.

So that somewhat impeded my ability to use the phone as glass shards in my face is not the most conducive way to conduct business.

I originally purchased my phone through an AT&T store but I called the local Apple store to talk to support about my options since I had not purchased Apple Care and had heard they were freshly stocked. So an appointment was made with their Genius Bar for the next day.

I arrive, bypass the still long line for the iPhone and get into my appointment earlier than anticipated. The associate was very helpful and he initially stated that there is normally a cost of $200 to replace the phone with this type of out of warranty damage. But as we wrapped up the exchange it turned out to be at zero cost result as he just performed a straight swap. His only advice was “just don’t let it happen again”.

So needless to say that was a $200 swing in my favor. Apple did not have to do that, I would have paid the $200 to swap my phone, but the fact that they were so accommodating and stood behind their product gives me a new sense of appreciation for Apple.

iPhone 3G Adventures

I finally got my iPhone 3G around noon today but not without some adventure and waiting in the process. I would love to hear if anyone else has a story about waiting for their new  iPhone today.

First I stopped at a local mall to see if I could “pop” in and pick up the 3G. Needless to say the line there was 700+ people long. After waiting for a while and not making much progress I went with plan B which was to go to an AT&T store close to my office.

The line being only 20 people I thought this would be my ticket to getting the 3G. After about 30 minutes of the line not moving very much I started to second guess my decision. On a side note, I ran into a guy that I went to high school with that I had not seen in over 15+ years! I also got to meet his great family (wife and two daughters). It is a small world considering I did not grow up in Dallas.

As the line dwindled down and it was unknown exactly when the phones would run out it became clear that it was going to be very close based on the AT&T rep updates. When there were four people left in front of me they announced that they only had 4 phones left total! There were at least another twenty people behind me. I thought… wouldn’t it be great if they ran out right in front of me.

So as their was one person to go they came to me and said that one of the people did not meet the criteria, i.e. primary account owner… so there was one black 8 GB left so I took it immediately! I was eligible for the upgrade so the cost was minimal and the wait at the AT&T store was roughly an hour and a half.

As far as the phone it is better than I had hoped. The feel of the phone is a bit more natural than v1. The back has a slight curve to it and their is a difference in terms of the feel of the screen. The app store is a nice addition although I miss some of the free hack programs. The App store is tied to iTunes. There are a number of free apps, including a great lightsaber app. Other apps are sold in the same model as other iTunes products. I immediately started downloading apps to my hearts content!

My restore from a v1 iPhone went very smoothly once I was actually able to get the activation completed. It took about 15 attempts to connect to the Apple servers to get the phone setup. I backed up my v1 one last time, popped the SIM with the SIM removal tool that now comes with the phone and once connected ran the restore from the “previous phone” option to import all of my settings from my v1.

All in all it was a very seemless transition. I have to say I love the active sync with Exchange! No more duplicate effort on deleting items from my phone and inbox. My calendar and contacts will now stay in sync so no more daily sync routine.

I have been on the 3G network before with a BlackJack so the added speed will be nice. The only downside so far is the battery life seems to be significantly less than the v1. I will have to adjust some of the defaults to try and preserve juice while traveling. My only other complaint is that this model does not fit into the existing docks. It will require a new accessory!

All in all I am very happy with the upgrade and it was definitely worth the wait!!! For those of you with the v1 I really recommend the hardware upgrade. I was surprised by how much I enjoy v2. For those of you who have yet to take the plunge now is the time. The 3G network, full exchange integration and a great user interface! What are you waiting for???

Here is a shot of my newly opened iPhone 3G

iphone3G

iPhone 3G

Are you going to get the iPhone 3G? If so why? Are you a current iPhone user or have you held out waiting for a faster network?

I am very interested in the study of Consumer Behavior. Especially around brands that transcend their categories and become engrained in our culture. Apple’s products definitely have redefined how we interact with music with the iPod and for many of us and I am very interested in how the iPhone is/has redifined our expecations around what a mobile device/phone should be.  

I have been very happy with my iPhone over the past year or however long it has been. All I know is that I am eligible for the upgrade with my carrier and I am ready for the 3G. I have lived with the quirks of not being able to push contacts, calendar and e-mail with Exchange. I have undergone the daily sync routine to try and keep my ever expanding calendar at bay. And I have suffered through the subpar camera experience. 

I have enjoyed the various hacks and it has even survived a few dives into my infant sons bathtub. So now it is time to upgrade and I will be one of those people in line early on Friday the 11th just so I can upgrade to the 3G.

Is it a necessity? No. Will it make life easier? Maybe a little bit. Could I wait and just get the 2.0 software release to get Active Sync? Sure. Will I wait beyond this weekend to pick up the phone? No.

This is where I have to give Apple credit for their marketing and design of their products. There is not another brand that comes to mind that has positioned itself in such a way that with each new release of a product it warrants an almost immediate upgrade. Think about how many iPods total that you own or have bought in the past few years alone.  

This is not necessarily because the functionality is superior, it is has to do with the simple and elegant products that demand your attention and ultimately get it because it is…. well cool. The hipster factor is high on their products and they cater to those that appreciate sleek, modern designs while keeping in mind that style over substance only works if you are a supermodel. For the rest of us you have to deliver the core functionality of todays integrated offerings and for the most part their products deliver both style and substance.  

So was this post necessary? No. Will there be another iPhone post in the future? I am sure. Will I pick up the 3G? Absolutely.  

Proximity Marketing

apple-iphoneI recently attended a customer brand loyalty summit and saw some interesting things & met some very interesting people. One of the topics discussed during a networking session was the next progression associated with marketing and mobile devices.

A lot of us are glued to our phones (Or iPhones) as I have talked about before. With more and more consolidation of devices it is not a leap that the next progression will extend from the device being the primary focus of reach to incorporate other services around the device.

Soon your mobile device will go from being your portable music player/phone/organizer to housing digital coupons, boarding passes for flights and credit cards (bye bye wallet). This is already prevalant in tech-centric societies such as Japan, but with the mobile adoption rates at the highest they have ever been here domestically combined with an increase in the level of sophistication and comfort from end-users, more and more emphasis will be put on mobile devices.

From a marketing perspective this can become very interesting. We have seen the shift from mass marketing to individual marketing where the user is now king (or queen) in controlling the messages that they want to see. The next step in proximity marketing is to have users opt in to their likes and allow for the location or an event to market to the user when they reach a certain proximity to a location.

For example. I drink a lot of Starbucks. I can opt in that I like Starbucks. The next time I am driving/walking close to a Starbucks I might receive a ringback reminding me that I am close to Starbucks and a Grande Green Tea Latte might be good at this point in time.

This will not work for all organizations but it is the next step in how marketers and brands will reach beyond traditional methods and delivery and further incorporate technology while respecting the end-users ability to choose the messages that allow in.

iPhone Update

apple-iphoneWell it has been over a month since I picked up my iPhone and I have to say that I am still very happy with it. It has survived a dive into my infant son’s bathtub and after drying out works like a charm. I have been very happy with the performance and the AT&T network.

I have been impressed with the ability to view documents, select which voicemail I want to listen to as well as the safari browser. I can post to my blog via BlogMailr, read my RSS feeds, while listening to my music via the integrated iPod functionality.

As far as the naysayers stating the iPhone is not for business I disagree. I can access my corporate Exchange account, view documents, set global timezones, view maps, manage contacts and view Web content all from one device.

The only downside is around calendar management. You are required to sync via iTunes to update your calendar.

Retailers are also creating iPhone centric sites such as Amazon.com’s newly launched iPhone site. (Thanks to Scott Watermasysk for pointing this one out).

There are a number of great applications already from the iPhone developer community. From skinning apps to games and with an SDK on the way early next year even more applications will become available.

After testing for a month I have to say that I am very happy with my iPhone!!!

SMS & Marketing

SMS based marketing is definitely on the rise. Why is that? Well for starters think about this. There are 6 billion people on the planet. There are over 3 billion cell phones in circulation. That is equivalent to 2.5 times more cell phones than internet connections!!! That will definitely qualify as a potential market for advertisers.

How many of you have received a text based ad, more importantly did you respond? In the month of September alone 4.7 milllion people in the US responded to an SMS ad. That may seem a bit surprising. I know I was surprised to read that data. The trend is definitely on the upward swing as well. Response rates have steadily risen since May from 4.3 million to 4.7 million in September.

So if 4.7 million people responded, imagine the increasing number of text based ads. Currently a majority of the ads are from the mobile operators centered around their mobile phone service (Downloads, News, Entertainment, etc..) I expect to see an increase of advertisers focus on this medium. Especially with a generation of individuals who rely heavily on this style of communication.

So do not be surprised if you begin to feel that familiar buzz of your phone when you receive a text message and you look and there is some form of advertisement. Be prepared for more messages from your favorite or not so favorite advertisers are coming to a mobile device near you.

 

iPhone

apple-iphoneI have taken the plunge and traded in my Samsung Blackjack for an iPhone. For the most part I live on my phone so I had concerns around how the iPhone would support my e-mail addiction. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to connect to our exchange server. Simply input the incoming and outgoing server as well as credentials and you are set up.

Activation was simple as it actually occurs through iTunes so your time in the retail store is minimal. So far I have been very impressed by the sleek design,but even more impressed by the multiple options in terms of functionality (iPod,Safari YouTube, maps, etc…).

For those of you waiting for the nextversion to “work the bugs out” I would recommend going ahead and taking the plunge. I am very glad that I did.

Published with BlogMailr

The Three-Screen Universe

While flying to NYC today I read an interesting article talking about “the three-screen universe” (TV, PC, and cell phone/gaming gizmo/iPod). The basic premise was that we have so much information available to us that it is potentially causing a social breakdown by contributing to ADHD type behavior and actually isolating us from interacting with one another. The more I thought about this I began to apply the meaning of the article to myself. How many times a day do I check my smart phone? 10, 20, 30 times a day??? Knowing me it is probably more like 50-100 times a day. Then I think about all the time I spend gaming (granted the kiddos are asleep) but that time could be spent interacting (No co-oping with your buddy does not count) or sleeping and of course the weekly TV (LOST) and during football season the weekly Oklahoma Sooner game. Then I started thinking about potential disruptive behavior in meetings, laptop open and working during meetings, checking the smart phone 15 times during the meeting, etc… you know you do it or have done it at one point in time. The whole point is to just say every once in a while before you go to pick up that controller or smart phone/ipod/blackberry think about doing a little something for society and interact (positively) with your environment and don’t feed the e-mail monster. It will still be hungry in the morning.