Apple Store, A Victim of Apple’s Success

I was up at 5am yesterday and tried to pre-order the iPhone before my morning workout with no luck (my buddy Dan highlights the universal frustration with the pre-order process here). Error after error message I slowly broke down and decided to drag my butt to the Apple store after all I needed to get my MacBook Pro battery checked anyway.

Trips to the Apple store used to be a joyous moment. Fancy toys, good service & zero chaos. And then the iPhone happened. It used to be that only us geeks had iPhones but now everyone and their brother has an iPhone, iPad, MacBook or other Mac related product and it shows. No matter what time of day you go to an Apple store it is pure hell. People and kids running everywhere, grandma getting ever feature of her new iPhone explained to her and every Genius Bar appointment is booked for days in advance by people trying to figure out where the button is on their Magic Mouse.

As I was standing in the store looking around in circles trying to find someone to ask about getting my battery checked (a 3 minute check) I realized that the Apple Store I knew and loved is no more. I snagged an employee and asked to get my battery checked and she informed me that there were no more Genius appointments open today and they didn’t have time to check my battery. Holding back my frustration I then asked her if I could buy an iPhone3Gs for my girlfriend since I had just broke her 3G when she kindly informs me that I needed to check-in with an employee up front who would then put me in line with a customer service rep to help me out. So not only did I have to make an appointment to get my battery checked but had to essentially get an appointment to actually buy something. Unbelievable.

It’s pretty evident that the Apple brand has outgrown the Apple Store and w/o adjustments I’m predicting Apple customer service going through the same pain points that ended up hindering Microsoft and Dell in the eyes of the consumer.

Link Building with Sponsorships

I wanted to expand on the excellent SEJ post about link building with charities. There is another method that can also help people in need and help you build links as well, Project Sponsorship. I know the debate on buying links will not end until they stop working but Matt Cutts even mentioned sponsorships as a relevant link building technique in one of his Google Webmaster Tools videos (although I can’t find the video now).

Typical sponsorships with local projects, charities and businesses are not always easy to come by and typically cost a quite a bit of money or resources. Enter Kickstarter. From their website “Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative ideas and ambitious endeavors.” And build links! Click around and read about the different projects people are hoping to get funded and see what interests you & who is offering links. Look around and you’ll see notes like “offering web credit” or some will outright say a link on their site.

Projects range from “Documenting the History of Maine’s Waterfront” (link) or helping a web series documenting the building of a new habitat for a Chimpanzee (link) to even funding a Facebook competitor (link) For as little as $1, but usually around $5 to $10 you can help fund a project that interests you and build links at the same time.

Like all link building it takes some time and effort but can reap rewards and you get the warm fuzzy feeling of helping someone reach follow through on their dreams. A win-win if you ask me.