No Better Than a Best Buy

via Former Apple Store Genius Chad Ramey wrote an open letter to Tim Cook:

I’ve watched as Apple retail has shifted from something truly spectacular and wonderful to big-box retail that is no better than a Best Buy or a Walmart. You see, there has been a shift in the focus of these stores. What was once a truly enriching place to work has become a place that leeches and drains everything from their employees.

An uncanny coincidence in light of Larry Downes’ article about "Why Best Buy is Going out of Business… Gradually".

I see this letter by Ramey as a failure of Apple to develop a sufficient customer service infrastructure as well as a failure in product design.

Customer service at Apple Stores seems to be stretched to the limits resulting in unsustainable casualties. Why do so many need customer service? Because Apple products fail. Most iPhones and iPads that end up on the other side of a Genius probably broke. iPhones and iPads break because they aren’t as rugged as they should be. One particular detail that doesn’t need to be is the glass back of the iPhone 4/4S. A more rugged, and just as eye pleasing, option would be a MacBook-like unibody enclosure.

Most Macs probably malfunctioned. Macs have complicated physical structures, but OS X is complicated, too. The trend toward incorporating iOS-like simplicity into OS X will probably continue. More MacBook Air sales will probably give some breathing room for those in customer service at Apple Stores. The external design is simpler and there are less moving parts so there is less to break. But there’s still more work to be done. Internal components need to be combined, ruggedized, and their number reduced. With additional improvements in unibody design manufacturing steps can be reduced with a simpler internal structure.

The efforts to ruggedize iPhones and iPads, and to further simplify Macs will lead to less failures, more satisfied customers, and less stressed out Geniuses at Apple Stores.