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I got a number of interesting responses to yesterday’s “Face Time” commentary about things to be learned from Apple and Steve Jobs.

MNB user Andy Casey wrote:

Maybe the best example of the synergy between on and off line stores is video above regarding Apple. Seems to me they are very close to getting it right.

By the way, I've always been a "PC" as the commercials say, mostly because i considered Apple just too expensive.  But I recently got an iPad and I have to say it is the most impressive "computer" I have ever used. Further, I just returned from the Apple store where I went to have my daughter's iPod fixed.  It was an easy, pleasant experience which started with troubleshooting online and when that couldn't resolve it, the ability to easily schedule an appointment at a local store.  I could have been in and out in about 10 minutes if I hadn't stopped to look at some other products.

The bottom line?  Over the years, I have owned copies of literally every version of Windows (and before that, DOS) on a couple of dozen PCs (at least) but I am so impressed with Apple I will probably never buy another Windows based machine.

Paul Doty wrote:

Apple is very good at not only creating new markets out of thin air as they did with the iPad but also at generating excitement which is evident with tomorrow's launch.  As you may have noticed, they did not offer a pre-order for the iPad 2 surely because they want the huge lines at their stores thus generating them lots of free press.

Here's a similar example of generating excitement in our world:  Recently I've been posting on our Facebook page whenever there is an interesting food holiday and I try to either ask a question about that particular food or try to tie it in with something we have on sale.  I am amazed at the number of responses I've received on these completely trivial and most likely made up holidays and we're not selling anything right then and there but we're getting people thinking about food and making them hungry and that's what matters!

And, from Jeff Gartner:

I just read your opening about Apple. I may also be biased as I've used Macs for years, and also have an iPhone and will soon be getting one of the new iPads (I always wait for the second year of a new Apple product, and have never been disappointed, as there are significant improvements from the first one). Apple simply understands it's about the customer experience, not the technology. Sure, their products are closed systems and not for the geeks who like to customize everything, but Apple products work in your everyday life, at home and at work (for me, it's the same place).

And they work simply, you don't have to be a geek to understand what to do. It's as if their new product concept focus groups were comprised entirely of 2 year-olds and 80 year-olds. Back when I worked in ad agencies, we always had both PCs and Macs in the offices, and everyone always wanted to get one of the Macs.

And their retail stores and tech support further enhance the customer experience. They help you select the product and options you need based on how you work and how you live, what you're going to do with it, not because it has a higher clock speed. The rare persistent problem of a corrupted file or software or permissions are easily taken care of at an Apple Store. If I have a problem with my ATT U-Verse, I call Apple's tech support to diagnose and solve the problem because I have an Airport Extreme router in the mix and we always seem to have one laptop or other product in our family still under an Apple Care extended warranty. A few years ago, my wife (a university professor) was given the option to get a Macbook or a PC laptop, and she wanted the Macbook. Because everyone else in her department had a PC, we called the university's IT staff to reaffirm it was ok to get the Macbook. And they replied, "yes, get the Macbook; we never have to take care of them" (viruses, network issues, etc).

So yes, it's reasonable for you to urge food retailers to think it's about the customer experience with food rather than just be distribution points.

MNB user Richard Kochersperger wrote:

You don't need to apologize for your enthusiasm for Apple.

They lead by being visionaries, choose where to compete by being first to the marketplace; and execute their action plans better than most.

Mobile connectivity 24/7, 365 turns many current economic models upside down in a wide variety of industries.

The impact of this concept is just beginning and will revolutionize retailing, education, healthcare, finance, logistics and supply chain as well as personal relationships.

Unfortunately, most food retailers don't get it because there is a significant leadership void who struggle with change and are very uncomfortable with technology.

On another subject, I have to say that I’m always amazed how the littlest thing can generate so many responses ... like yesterday, when I responded to MNB user Hortencia Espinoza’s email about St. Patrick’s Day and Lent by noting briefly that I planned “to give up Catholic guilt for Lent,” and asked, “Can I get an Amen?”

Well, the number of people who sent me emails saying, simply, “Amen!” was staggering.

There also were a bunch of emails pointing out that the Church does not require giving up alcohol for Lent ... what to give up for Lent is a highly personal decision not dictated by the hierarchy.

(My recollection, going back to before I was a “Catholic in recovery,” was that the Church then was preaching a more positive approach to lent, focused on service rather than denial. I have no idea if this has changed or not.)

But I also got another email from Hortencia Espinoza:


LOL! Loved your response to this. OMG it made me laugh so hard I got V8 all over my keyboard.

Last night at Ash Wednesday mass our priest said he was giving up swearing, money, clothes and fancy cars for Lent (he always does an  icebreaker joke to start the homily) I BURST into laughter while everyone else sat there and he goes “She got it, so she’s going to heaven,” which made me laugh even louder.

Laughter in church? Wow. (Last time I laughed in church I got hit. Hard.)

So it goes.
KC's View: