This holiday season was pretty typical for my family. My kids received lots of gifts. And as usual, they each fell head over heels in love with one specific present that they were longing for. They absolutely adore their new iPod Touchs. In fact, they jumped for joy the second they found theirs under our tree. Then, for the next three hours, my wife moaned and groaned with frustration.
You see, my wife attempted to set up iTunes libraries for each of my kids on our two computers. The problem (which shouldn’t really be one) is that each of us has existing accounts already on our respective computers. What happened next was actually sad. A seemingly routine task of loading up an iPod turned into one that erased some of my files, synched all of our downloaded music/videos over and over again on each other’s accounts, and ultimately, had my wife pulling her own hair out in utter contempt for Apple. Even the Apple Help Desk couldn’t make it work (she actually called on Christmas, but was automatically hung up on twice because no one was working that day). When she went to visit the Apple store at our local mall the next morning, they informed her that this is not their domain. So, it was back to the Apple Help Desk…or some other alternative.
Sometimes, “some other alternative” ends up being the better answer (though) because my wife’s friend Barrie was finally able to explain how each account now has to be operated manually when downloading any new purchases. Although the manual download takes an infinite more time (and patience) than the normal way, it’s critically important to each individual library, or my seven year old son could be stuck listening to Led Zeppelin and watching The Departed. Not good…
I don’t get Apple. On the one hand, this company is simply incredible from an innovation standpoint. It continually leads the market place by developing really cool and amazingly appealing products that consumers and businesses simply don’t want to live without. Then on the other, it baffles customers by creating mind boggling, backwards technology protocols that are so frustrating and completely unfriendly to consumers. It truly makes no sense.
Either Apple is purposely trying to make it difficult for any one computer to have more than one account, or the company simply doesn’t give a damn. I thought about those theories and then decided to research a few blogs to find out if others are having the same issue and why they believe Apple allows it to happen. What I found were dozens of posts from many Apple and iPod haters (I actually didn’t realize so many are so disgusted with the company). More to the point of this post, I read through a mish mash of various points of view which educated me some, but didn’t paint an either/or conclusion on why Apple does this. Instead, the truth lies somewhere within both my theories.
According to many, Apple just doesn’t care. It has a monopoly on this category (iPods). And therefore, it knows that these frustrations will not repel the masses from continually buying the next greatest versions when they come out. Others write about the more reasonable business rationale that Apple really doesn’t want its library content to be shared among family and friends (or it will lose money on sales). That’s why it is extremely difficult for families to successfully load more than one account on any given computer.
My guess is that the latter viewpoint is more realistic. But, either way it stinks. Companies that sell products/technology which aren’t consumer friendly lose market share quickly when true competition begins to heat up in their industry. 2011 should be the year that Apple faces just this. Let’s see what happens…