What Can Damage Apple’s Amazing Customer Experience and Brand?


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Partnering with Suppliers Who Can’t Match the Apple

Since Apple has raised the bar so high, it’s tricky for Apple to
find partners who are up to the challenge of supporting the
experience that Apple users have become addicted to. Given the care
with which Steve Jobs imbues every atom of the customer experience he
creates when designing a product or service, why doesn’t Apple have
better quality control for vetting its partners’ experiences?


© 2010 Apple

Does Apple Stick with AT&T in the U.S.??

So the question I’ keep asking myself, and have been asking ever
since the launch of the iPhone, is why the near-exclusive partnership
with AT&T (in the U.S.)—a brand in mobile telephony that has
become synonymous with lousy coverage? In the U.S., Apple has
persisted in giving AT&T long periods of exclusivity for the
iPhone. Verizon is still dithering about when its iPhone
will become available.

But why? AT&T has been notorious in letting customers down.
Let’s count the ways:

• Spotty wireless coverage in the U.S.

Too little bandwidth for data-intensive users

Bad customer experience dealing with AT&T

Hacking of iPad Users’ Data

AT&T’s handling of the iPhone 4 Launch, including a second
data breach!

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes has a wonderful post entitled, “Oh AT&T, could you have FAILed any harder on
iPhone 4 pre-order day?
” In the post, he says, “I really don’t
think so…” then he lists all the failures on AT&T’s side….and goes
on to say:

“This is a complete and utter mess, and it’s amazing to think of
Apple standing on the sidelines looking on at this disastrous handling
of the pre-order of a flagship product.”

Why Did the iPhone 4 Not Work During Jobs’ Announcement?

On June 7th, Steve Jobs announced the next iPhone—the product
whose popularity swamped AT&T’s infrastructure and reportedly
caused Apple to halt order acceptance after 600,000 orders were
placed. Less widely reported, but important, was the glitch that
occurred DURING the announcement itself. As everyone knows, Apple
announcements are carefully staged and prepared. So it came as a
surprise to everyone, including Steve Jobs, when he couldn’t do his
iPhone 4 demo! He wound up having to ask everyone in the audience to
turn off their computers and phones so that he could have enough
bandwidth to complete the demo. Jordan Robertson reported this in “Data congestion thwarts Steve Jobs’ iPhone demo,”
an AP wire story picked up by The Washington Post, Forbes,
and many other news sources.

Network Data Congestion Will Damage the Customer

One of the people who noticed this glitch at the iPhone 4
announcement was my husband, Tom Hagan. He has been ruminating
about wireless spectrum capacity recently, ever since he attended
my brother Andrew Seybold’s Wireless University seminar in Las Vegas this
Spring. As Andy described in detail how spectrum is allocated and
managed, Tom’s head was spinning. Then, during a break, Andy and
several other folks whipped out their smartphones to show each
other their video-on-demand capabilities. When Andy played his
video, it looked great! When the second user launched his, it was
slower. By the time the fifth user in the group tried to launch a
video, all of them started to degrade. Tom’s “Aha!” was that
there’s no way our current wireless infrastructure will deliver
the kind of user experience that people are expecting.

Here are some of his thoughts on this topic, from his post, “Video on Cell Phones? Not Soon”:

“One of the things that ‘everybody knows that just ain’t so’ is
that we will all soon be watching videos on our cell phones.

The rather sudden appearance of wideband Web access via cable,
largely due to the enormous capacity of fiber optics, has
induced many to believe incorrectly that the same is about to
happen for wireless communication, via either 3G or 4G phone
networks. Not so.

The entire available wireless spectrum available to cell phone
users must be divided among the concurrent users reached by a
single transmitter at the base station for the cell. That
spectrum is sufficient for thousands of voice users, but only
for many fewer concurrent video users — maybe 100 or so. Even
five concurrent video downloads can confound a given base
station in a cell tower at present.

There is just not enough spectrum available to provide video to
the thousands of concurrent cell phones within the footprint of a
typical cell tower today. Those towers are dotted around the
landscape in church towers and fake pine trees, each one
covering many square miles of geography containing many wireless
cell phone users. Coverage is annoyingly spotty today even for
voice, both because towers are not numerous enough, leaving dead
spots, and also because some base stations are trying to serve too
many users at once. And that’s just for audio. Even low quality
video, equivalent to old analog VHS tapes, soaks up the bandwidth of
more than 20 voice channels.”

This perspective continues…

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Patricia Seybold
With 30 years of experience consulting to customer-centric executives in technology-aggressive businesses across many industries, Patricia Seybold is a visionary thought leader with the unique ability to spot the impact that technology enablement and customer behavior will have on business trends very early. Seybold provides customer-centric executives within Fortune 1 companies with strategic insights, technology guidance, and best practices.


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