Thursday, August 30, 2012

Apple Envy

Here recently I've noticed where more and more people seem to just look for things wrong with Apple. It's as if they're upset the company does such a good job with everything. It's as if they're saying, "Their products are solid, so we can't pick them apart. Their product and package design is exceptional, so we can't pick that apart. Their advertising / marketing / branding is great, so we can't pick that apart. Their customer service is outstanding, so we can't pick that apart. There's got to be something. Well, lets see what it is that makes their customer service so good and pick that apart. Lets do that."

I just finished reading this Gizmodo article about the contents of Apple's training manual and was a little surprised at how it portrays the company in such a negative way due to the contents of the manual.  Basically the manual teaches the employee's to treat and respond to their customers in much the same way that any other sales training book would. It's not like Apple is doing anything new or underhanded by this. For years, law enforcement officers have been trained to pick up on subtle body language to gain insight on whether somebody is hiding something or not, just as the Apple "Genius" training manual instructs their employee's to do. Apple is not the first company to train their employee's to respond to customers in a certain way, or to use certain words in place of others on purpose. So why is it that Apple is bad because they train their employees to make sure their customers leave happy whenever possible, within reason?

I don't think most people realize how much time, thought, and money goes into brand development, marketing strategy, and advertising in general. Most people aren't  aware of the tiniest little things companies do to sell their products. This can be everything and anything from font choice, to color choice for the packaging, to how it's photographed and presented in advertising. The whole advertising industry is based around all of this. People actually get college degrees in marketing -- ya know.  And then on the retail side, things are placed in certain areas for a reason. It's no coincidence that grocery stores put candy, magazines, and tabloids right at the cash registers. Look at the cereal aisle in your grocery store and notice that the sugary "kids" cereals are down low -- where the kids can see them -- and the healthier cereals are up higher, in line with the adults line of site. Car sales. I actually sold cars for a short while, and you would be amazed at the tiniest little things they teach car salesman to do or say to customers in order to sell more cars. As a photographer I may have a person stand a certain way, or not stand that way to convey one thing or the other about them to the viewer of the photograph.

My point is -- when are people going to quit blaming others for their lack of control when it comes to spending money, eating, drinking -- whatever. It's as if the writer of this article is annoyed that Apple is so good at what they do. That they're so good at pleasing their customers. That they're so good at selling their products that they've become the most successful company in the history of the United States.

So, how does this all tie into photography? Well, let me tell you:

1.) As a commercial photographer I'm one of those people that's trained to photograph something in such a way that people will want to buy it. It's my job to sell a product, service, personality, or concept through a photograph. I don't want somebody upset with me because I've done my job well and they can't control their spending. Well, I've actually gotten too many good shots for clients before, and when I do, at times, it's like they resent me for it because they can't afford to buy everything they want. Just like the writer of the Gizmodo post seems to resent that Apple teaches their sales staff basic concepts in regards to sales. Businesses are in business to make a profit -- what's wrong with that?

2.) I'm drinking the Mac Kool-Aid. I am. I own a few of them -- and love them. I spend more time creating  on one of my computers or iPhone than I do with my cameras. I'm writing this blog post on one. They pretty much inspire you to create. They make it easier to create. And -- there is not one company that I recall being happier with in regards to their products or customer service.

3.) As a portrait photographer people fascinate me. How people respond to different things fascinates me. People don't like the idea of somebody else picking up on all kinds of things about them just by looking at them. Their body language. How they're dressed. Not just what they say, but how they say it. People may not want to admit it, but they do form opinions about others through these things, even when they don't realize it. And yes, you will form an opinion on somebody you don't know just through a photograph of them. This is why all this is important to me as a photographer.

So, the fact that this Gizmodo article seems to demonize Apple for doing something well bothers me. It points the finger at the company, when it is ultimately our responsibility as consumers to decide what we do and do not buy. It seems that as a society we are growing increasingly comfortable with blaming others for our actions, or lack of action, and never bothering to look in the mirror for the cause of, or answer, to our problems.  That bothers me, and it should bother you, too.


Unknown said...

Apple hate is old. I've been a fan of the company and a consumer of its products since the 80s. The refrain at one time was that Apple was too small to survive the onslaught of a large industry. Today, they are too large to maintain momentum.

Apple's willingness to completely disregard conventional wisdom makes many people uncomfortable, and they view Apple's approach as implicit criticism. You see this play out any time a disrupter enters the field, be it in commerce, society or even religion.

Keith Taylor Photography said...

Yes, I recall the people that were anti-Apple in the 80's and even up to the mid 90's, Unknown. I actually wish they would not have gotten so popular, too.

"Apple's willingness to completely disregard conventional wisdom makes many people uncomfortable, and they view Apple's approach as implicit criticism. You see this play out any time a disrupter enters the field, be it in commerce, society or even religion."

Very well put -- and I agree.

Keith Taylor Photography said...

"I actually wish they would not have gotten so popular, too."

I should have worded that differently.

I actually wish Apple would not have gotten so popular in recent years.