What’s important to Apple? Retail stores? iPhone sales? The Mac (meh)? iPad (double down on expensive)? Watch? No. But it should be obvious that Apple has a product focus that is unlike any competitor.
What matters to Apple is the user experience. From the box opening to upgrading to new apps, Apple keeps the user experience in proper balance of under promise and over deliver. Using an Apple product– Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch– is a more pleasurable, pleasant, warm and fuzzy feeling for most of us (especially when compared to the riffraff that pushes product like a carnival barker.
What does this have to do with T-Mobile?
Read The Fine Print
Through the years I’ve tried every major cell phone carrier who could send a signal into the Bay area and most of them have failed to deliver a good user experience. Part of that was due to the convoluted geography. Part of that was due to rapid growth of users but not cell phone towers or bandwidth. And part of that was because cell phone carriers do not give a crapola about customer experience.
I switched my iPhone to T-Mobile a couple of years ago because their plans were simpler to get into and out of, and they grew their network with fewer customers so I though performance might be better. It was. For awhile. Then, as customers grew in number, T-Mobile went back into the natural state of every cell phone carrier– ‘let’s screw with the customer.’ Why?
T-Mobile has been the ‘Un-Carrier’ for a few years and that brought in customers and switchers from other carriers to plans that were simple, and phones that were easy to buy; no strings attached. AT&T and Verizon have been burned a bit so both moved to simpler plans for iPhone users. AT&T just announced they would do away with extra cost service overages. Instead of charging for excess data beyond your plan, customers are throttled down to 2G when the data cap is reached.
In other words, you can use all your data but you won’t even have enough bandwidth for email if you go beyond the plan.
How did nemesis T-Mobile respond to that simplicity? All plans are unlimited! Yea! No tiered data. Oh. Wait. $70 a month? No autopay is an extra $5 a month. Add a tablet to the plan and it’s another $20 a month? Binge On streams on at 480p? Tethering is 2G? But I want more than 2G. That’s an extra $15 a month to get the 4G LTE already coming into my T-Mobile bound iPhone (oh, and unlimited really has a limit; exceed the limit and service goes to hell in a hand basket).
Whatever happened to simplicity?
That got me to thinking about how convoluted and complex Apple has become in recent years. Cell phone carriers are notorious for gouging their customers wherever possible, but Apple built a great reputation for under promising and over delivering on the user experience. But look at the product line these days.
- MacBook – multiple versions of the new Mac; m3, m5, m7, and four colors
- MacBook Air – cheaper than a MacBook with more power
- MacBook Pro – one model is four years old; others beg for an update
- iMac – what’s not to like? Retina lives! Now, put in a faster CPU, Apple
- MacPro – All the new Mac Pro models ever manufactured were manufactured in 2013
- Mac mini – the price and options add up fast
Simply put, there are more Macs than ever on Apple’s shelves– some of them have been there for years without an upgrade, so the Mac line is anything but simple these days. Convoluted and aging, yes.
What about the iPhone?
There is absolutely nothing simple about the iPhone line these days, either.
- iPhone 6s Plus – flagship, with multiple storage options and four colors, best camera
- iPhone 6s – what most people buy when buying new, four colors, and still 16GB
- iPhone 6 Plus – it’s last year’s model at a lower price and half the colors, two storage options
- iPhone 6 – another model from last year at a lower price and half the colors, two storage options
- iPhone SE – a 4-inch display, new components, three-year-old case design, four colors, two storage options.
There isn’t anything simple about the choices Apple gives customers these days, other than only a simpleton would buy the 16GB version of anything.
Where is the simplicity and elegance, Apple?
I could go on and on but I’m not getting paid by the word. The iPad line is positively gargantuan and anemic with older than old models being passed off as new. And do not get me started on Watch. Look at all the models and then look at all the Watch band options. Remember when iTunes was where you put your ripped CDs or bought music to download and sync to iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or iPod? Have you seen iTunes recently? It’s a multi-tiered media megamall. Apple Music? It’s so complex these days you need a Guided Tour to figure it out. And I still haven’t figured it out (although I did figure out how to get the price tag down to about $7.99 a month; buy discounted iTunes cards and then stuff them into your iTunes account because Apple deducts the $9.99 a month Apple Music subscription fee there first; ipso facto, discount!).
There was a time when Apple was the source of simplicity with a model array of products that just worked and were secure, elegant, easy to use. Honestly, there are times when I envy our next door neighbor. She has a cheap-assed Android TracFone with 4G LTE and more minutes, texts, and data than she can use for $35 a month.
My connected life has become complicated when I want simplicity. It has also become expensive in an era where bandwidth costs– per GB– should be going down. Not only could Apple use a little more simplicity in the product line, it could also use a customer appreciation discount because I’m not feeling the appreciation these days.