It’s been almost impossible not to have noticed the buzz created in the last couple of weeks with the unveiling of the iPad 2, the updated version of Apple’s between category gizmo. It’s only just over a year since the initial release of the tablet-computer with the touch screen interface and on-screen keyboard. I do count myself as one of many who felt that the product itself was falling between two stools, but what do I know? 15 million sales later, a host of competitors are scrambling to develop their own versions. It has started to transform even our own office landscape, they are now the presentation delivery tool of choice, and when used in tandem presentation editor such as Prezi, the impact is pretty spectacular.. I wonder if the expression, “Death by PowerPoint” will indeed one day become a thing of the past.
So on to more mundane matters, but Apple-related nonetheless.. Recently I have had to replace my beloved 5th gen iPod Nano, spectacular sound, a whopping 16GB of storage space in such a small bundle with welcome upgrades such as a decent quality video camera, in-built pedometer and FM radio, and yes, it was Dairy Milk purple in colour…always a bonus. Not being overly impressed with the 6th gen version, a touch-screen, postage stamp-sized radical departure which I learned on Amazon reviews was difficult to operate when running, I checked out the classic, but again found fault. Admittedly, this had more to do with Apple than myself, the online complaints about the EU imposed volume cap left me pretty cold and the size of the kit seemed once again a bit unsuitable for my more sporty pursuits. So I went ahead and bought a like-for-like replacement online. Just a week out of the 30 day return period, I started to hear progressively more frequent ‘static’ noises and was at a loss, I’d dispensed with my packaging, receipts and the accompanying literature. With a real lack of expectation, I went to the Apple shop to see if there was anything they could do, expecting at best that the issue was recognised and in some way fixable, and at worst, that I would face lengthy repair delays or would have to invest in a less-preferred model or brand. To my absolute delight, the product having been registered online was still under warranty and the guy at the Genius Bar was really helpful – within 5 minutes, I had a like-for-like replacement with zero fuss. Result.
I was only too happy to fill in the CSat questionnaire when it arrived and to share my experience with my 100 or so Facebook friends. In terms of word-of-mouth, it was interesting to see a friend post that he’d heard two compliments on Apple customer service on his account from unrelated parties and being a brand advocate, was only too happy to share this with his Twitter following. It was hardly viral marketing, a term itself that has only recently been coined to describe the incredibly fast dissemination of buzz across the internet, but an insight all the same. As a side product, and by no means deliberate, anyone reading this blog will hardly fail to spot the products that I’m an active brand advocate of… Whilst the ethics are still being debated, this year the rapper 50 Cent promoted a company he holds stocks in called H&H Imports to his 3.8m Twitter followers. This celebrity endorsement raised the share price by 240% in one day alone. I think there is enough literature out there in terms of the effectiveness of word of mouth and how good news travels fast. I will end on a cautionary note though, emerging research did show that almost one-in-four American consumers were more likely to share a negative experience than a positive one, the group being loosely termed, ‘Madvocates’. Priceless.