The genius of Apple coolness

I had my first true iPod experience today. You know, the feeling of coolness as you’re out and about in public with those little white buds sticking in your ears with the white cables dangling down that disappear under your jacket.

Yes, I did succumb to strong temptation when I was in the US last week and I bought an iPod Mini.

So I was downtown at lunchtime today. Took the tram to Leidseplein, listening to one of Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code shows during the journey. (If Jackie Danicki gets her podcast kicks on a bus in the Earl’s Court Road, London, then I can get mine on the number 24 tram in Amsterdam.)

You get looks from people. Knowing looks, especially from those with dangly bits in their ears. Might even exchange a smile or two. Even a wink if your cable is white (but you have to be a bit careful with a gesture like that, especially if it’s a girl).

Wow, this is a great social tool. Unspoken potential connections, all because you have some things sticking in your ears.

Earlier this morning, I read a great post by Steve Crescenzo who talks about Apple’s Genius Bar in San Francisco. That was in my mind as I popped into the Apple Centre MacHouse to see if they had an iPod Mini dock. I was in luck.

Then, just out of curiosity, I asked if they had any iPod Shuffles in stock. That question was greeted with gales of laughter, including from me! Oh, we did have a good laugh, truly a Pythonesque moment! As it seems everywhere, Shuffles continue to be in big, big demand so you have to wait until more stock arrives.

In chatting to the sales guy, I noticed one thing. The way he spoke, he had passion. He was excited about iPods. He spoke animatedly all the time. He loves these products. While this store in Amsterdam didn’t have a Genius Bar like the one Steve describes, I bet that sales guy’s attitude is reflected among all the other employees.

It shouldn’t be too surprising, really. They’re working for a company that it seems everyone around the world thinks makes some of the coolest, most desirable, products on the planet. Everyone wants one. Everyone is talking about them. Everywhere you look, there are posters advertising them. You have a groundswell of consumer and media positive-ness that would make any employee just feel good about what he or she is doing working there, and good about being a part of all the coolness that’s going on.

Of course, lots of other companies makes lots of great products, and whose employees love being part of their experience. But I’ve rarely seen the passion. So while the Genius Bar concept hasn’t yet hit Apple’s Amsterdam stores, that doesn’t matter – they have geniuses there anyway.

Yep, this is coolness, I thought, as I left the store and crossed the street to the crowded tramstop…

10 thoughts on “The genius of Apple coolness

  1. I picked up a 1GB Shuffle yesterday in Orlando, FL (I also have the original 5GB iPod).
    The thing is small! I love it. The only major issue is the slow song transfer via USB (instead of Firewire).
    I had a dinner function last night and everyone that I showed it to is absolutely amazed.

  2. The iPod club is alive and well in Auburn too. I’ve had conversations with people I would never have talked to on my own because of The Headphones.
    Music is one of those subjects that so many people are passionate about. Seeing someone else with one is great excuse to delve into conversations (debates?) about musical preferences.
    Seeing someone’s playlist is like reading a diary.
    My favorite mini accesory is the iTrip. It’s perfect for the drive from home to school and back for visits, and great for dj-ing at house parties and get-togethers, too.

  3. I think the key to the iPod’s success is the experience that comes with the technology. Those white headphone wires have become more about fashion than utility. The US is quickly becoming enslaved to this phenomenon.
    I too have become a slave of the iPod. I love having access the plethora of songs that create a soundtrack to my daily walk to school or work. The songs of cars honking and people talking have been replaced with Air, Death Cab for Cutie, Beethoven, Cold Play, whatever fits my mood at the moment.
    It makes perfect sense to me why the sales guy was excited about the iPod because he was about to introduce you to an entire sub-culture in which we belong.

  4. And, here I walked into the Apple store in Union Square in SF, and just shook my head at the inability to meet demand (which I believe is partially a planned inability to push for greater demand).
    So, if I get an iPod Shuffle, I get it. If I don’t, oh well.

  5. Lucky you, Josh 🙂 When I inquired in the Apple Store in Walnut Creek, California, where I bought the iPod Mini last week, no stock, same as in Amsterdam today. They did have one for display, the first one I’ve actually seen and touched. It really is a neat little thing!
    Melanie, what you say about playlists – Stuart Henshall had a great experiment with an iPod playlist. You could dial up his iPod on Skype and listen to the music he likes. He’s now taken it offline, unfortunately, but that could be a way to share someone else’s listening pleasure. (See Stuart’s post –
    Emily, you’re right about the sub culture. This whole iPod thing is a culture in itself.
    Jeremy, you need to get down to Florida where Josh is…

  6. There is no Genius Bar in MacHouse in Amsterdam because it’s not an Apple Store – the only European Apple Store at the moment is in London. MacHouse is probably an independent reseller.
    I have a friend who used the Genius Bar in their London store two weeks ago – and she is still raving about the service. She had a problem I want: she’s freelance and will be spending a couple of months in Jamaica, so she needs to be completely mobile yet connected even when she’s on the beach, which will be a lot of the time. They helped her configure her bluetooth mobile so she could use it as a modem with her laptop and gave her recommendations for printing/scanning solutions, some of which were not even stocked or made by Apple. She knew what she needed to do, but just didn’t quite know how to achieve it. What I love about the Genius Bar concept is that these guys do not receive commission. They’re just there to try to ensure you go away happy without the pressure of having to try to sell you things.
    By the way, most of Apple’s marketing money goes to its retail operations. I guess if you and others have blogged about it, my friend is raving to everyone she knows about her great experience and this is multiplied across all their stores, it seems to be money well spent.

  7. You’re right Alex – the MacHouse in Amsterdam is a reseller not Apple itself. Pretty seamless, though.
    Add your friend’s great experience in London to that of Steve’s in San Francisco and you have an example of the ideal customer experience with a company no matter where you are. If this is the same with every Apple store – and I bet it is – then no wonder Apple has such high customer loyalty.
    My iPod Mini is the first Apple product I’ve ever bought. For me it’s a small indicator of what I hear and see about every Apple product: great design, beautiful looks, excellent quality products. And a great experience in my dealings with the company, whether that’s directly or via a reseller.
    Does this mean I’d buy an Apple PC? Well, those Powerbooks look pretty gorgeous! If they ran Windows, it would be an easier decision…

  8. Find your joy where you can

    While we’re on the subject of how I get my kicks, I have to add that I am always a lot more happy than I shold be to ride the elevator at Westminster tube station while listening to George Strait…

  9. Find your joy where you can

    While we’re on the subject of how I get my kicks, I have to add that I am always a lot more happy than I should be to ride the elevator at Westminster tube station while listening to George Strait…

  10. Time to Short Apple?

    Apple is the company people love to love. It’s got brand equity and loyalty out the wazoo, even after treating that same user body like crap for a good part of the ’90s. (Apple drove me into Dell’s arms with OS 7.5.) Your average techie, and certainly…

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