Delicious Irony: Has Apple Recreated 1984?


Apple’s 1984 Superbowl commercial famously mocked the robotic followers of the then-dominant IBM PC and contrasted them with the fresh young blonde woman who was running free and willing to smash the screen to express her rebellion.

What are the facts?
While Apple has certainly created a feeling of liberation in millions of its customers, has it also recreated 1984 among its own retail sales staff? If so, is Apple sowing the seeds that will lead to its eventual destruction?

Yukari Iwatani Kane and Ian Sherr in the Wall Street Journal (Secrets From Apple’s Genius Bar) conclude that Apple’s intensive control of how employees interact with customers and scripted training for on-site tech support amount to demands for “Full Loyalty, No Negativity“.

That was based on limited information: confidential training manuals, a recording of a store meeting and interviews with around a dozen current and former employees.

Another reader (Emilio Martinez: @Emilio_CSRE) who says he is an ex-employee of Apple’s Fifth Avenue store questioned the facts of the WSJ article and suggested that Apple’s staff are less robotic than the Kane and Sherr imply:

Operationalization of How to Delight Customers” varies but most Apple Employees don’t follow the steps of service.

More intensive studies would be needed to get a comprehensive picture of the actual practices across Apple’s hundreds of stores.

However let’s be clear on a few points.




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