Apple must reinvent the Genius Bar

“Last week @mgsiegler wrote a post about his customer experience at an Apple Store,” Carolina Milanesi writes for Tech.pinions. “While the issue that brought him to a store is somewhat unique, his recount of long lines and wait time despite having an appointment was not that different from what I have heard pop up as a complaint from friends who are iPhone and iPad users and one that I have experienced myself on a couple of occasions.”

“It seems to me that Apple should come up with something that is as caring and personal of an experience than it was back in the day when I went into a store and met with my Genius Bar guru who knew everything about me and my device,” Milanesi writes.

“Today, through technology, Apple can deliver the same ’boutique feel’ thanks to a device that knows me and knows itself,” Milanesi writes. “Machine learning and artificial intelligence could help with self-diagnose, and an app or even Siri could walk/talk a user through some basic testing that would help assess whether I can fix it, need to go into a store or mail my device in. The Genius would move from the Bar to my device.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Eventually, hopefully, having “Genius Onboard” would help users along while helping to sell Apple devices.

Apple combines machine learning and Siri teams under John Giannandrea – July 10, 2018
Apple’s ‘personal assistant activation’ patent application hints at improved Siri – May 10, 2018
A.I. defector gives Apple access to Google’s secrets – April 6, 2018
Gene Munster: Poaching AI chief John Giannandrea from Google a win for Apple – April 5, 2018
Apple hires Google’s A.I. chief to improve Siri – April 4, 2018


  1. Apple already offers services to diagnose faults remotely. The people who most need the Genus Bar are people who have a portable Apple device ( including smallish Macs ) which they can take into the Genius Bar to be fixed. If your device is faulty, you’re not too likely to be able to run a cyber Genius on it. If it were working well enough to run a Genius app, then on-line diagnostic techniques should be useable.

    I’ve used Genius bars and also had Apple’s on-line support to resolve problems. Both were good and each has it’s particular advantages and disadvantages.

  2. The whole Apple store experience lags badly behind what it used to be. My last several visits have been underwhelming, certainly not a premium or enlightening experience. The store layout is poor, it was loud, it was unwelcoming and sterile.

    1) With an appointment, I walked in the door — there was no signage telling where to go, no person greeted me.
    2) When I flagged down an uninterested T-shirted fashionista to ask where I go to check in for my appointment, he said the line starts “over by that column”. There was no orderly queue, just a jumble of people that were being served in random order. After being passed over twice, I finally stepped forward and asked if they would call out people who had appointments or if I needed to check in. I am about 20 minutes early. The person looked me up and told me that I was too early, they could not check me in 10 minutes before my appointment. Go browse and come back. I wander through the store — no associate asks if I would like assistance or offers to show me anything. The acoustics are awful, so Homepod display is a joke. The stale Mac tables are running some precanned presentation. I pull up a Filemaker tutorial on one. It crashes. I go to a different Mac. It’s got no WiFi connection. I decide my time is better spent in a different store with displays that are educational and functional.
    3) I come back a couple minutes before my approintment time. Repeat digital check mess, including having to be aggressive to get served after having other people “wander” in front of me. This time I was told to wait in a jumbled mess of cube shaped seats.
    4) At least 10 minutes _after_ my appointment time, an associate wanders through calling my name. (Well isn’t that high tech?) I introduce myself. The technician starts off asking questions as if he had no previous info. I re-explain the 2 problems which I had already written when I made the appointment in the first place.
    5) Associate gets it, thankfully, takes device and says it will take about 1.5 hours to fix the hardware problems. Okay, good, they have the parts in stock (or so I was led to believe).
    6) Instead of impressing me with data handling prowess, the Apple associate makes me sign a lawyerly document telling me that Apple will not be responsible for any data loss. You’d think that a company with Apple’s insane wealth would have the ability to maintain data integrity and, for additional cost if necessary, perform a local backup as part of its service. No, clearly the Apple associates are being trained to sell iCloud rentals and then have users sign their rights away because iCloud is not guaranteed at all. I had already backed up, but the process Apple is pushing is downright insulting.
    7) When I come back, the entire stupid checkin process repeats itself except this time after waiting several minutes for the digital checking in, it takes over 30 minutes of waiting to be served. All the while T-shirted associates are floating all over the place chit chatting. I overhear all kinds of bad advice being doled out by the Apple T-shirt kids, for example, telling people that they cannot use an iPhone without using iCloud. That is just a lie.
    8) When my device is presented to me, by a different associate who again wanders through calling out my name in public, I find one of the two problems is resolved. This associate again pretends to have no knowledge of what I was there for, the was just tasked to hand me back my product and collect payment. I ask why only half of the issues were resolved. Well my device isn’t in warranty and they can’t repair it right now and the look on the kid’s face implies that I should just buy a new one. Politely tell him that this is not what I was promised 2 hours ago, pay, and leave. Had the device been properly designed, I could have repaired it myself and saved myself the all-day trip to the stupid Apple store.

    Bottom line, Apple today is all about extracting money. Software leadership and delighting the customer is long gone. Sorry I cannot continue to be positive about a company that now puts profits over product and customer. If you are merely an AAPL investor and don’t give a shit about anything but pushing disposable unrepairable overpriced units to a semi-captured audience in a walled garden, then perhaps you are entirely satisfied. I came to expect more from Apple from the days when they really did go out of their way to please the customer before and after the sale.

    1. It’s odd but I have had a similar experience in some respects. the disorganisation, the long waits, the failure to repair the problem and positive rudeness from a supervisor – for which I received an emailed apology. The Apple experience is not premium.

  3. They can rewrite it by hiring actual ‘geniuses’!

    Not the people who “test” my iMac and tell me there is no problem and send me home to deal with that non-existent problem that I spend 3 hours and level 3 tier support who set up meeting to take back my iMac for an overnight stress test that when done, reveals no issue and send me home to continue to deal with the same non-existent issue.

    1. The problem is that the people they would need to hire with the ability and expertise to do that would likely have to be paid far more than they pay their store managers.

  4. Apple has been moving towards centralization of their diagnostic services and fixes for many, many years – as have all IT organizations – this allows them to both standardize services and hire workers that are less capable – it used to be that techs needed to bring their own troubleshooting skills, but those days are log gone – and are actually sometimes prevented by policy (hence the poor users who’s computer passes an official Apple diagnostic test, only to fail a day later) – This isn’t an Apple-only issue, nor is it going to get resolved by rebranding – sad to say, this is sort of a moment to reflect and miss Steve Jobs as the Genius Bar was one of the concepts he championed.

  5. Whether its online or onboard it’s interesting that I am hearing more about software that can do a better job than a human doctor to detect and determine disease but practically nothing about software that can do a similar job with ones computer which would seem to be far easier to accomplish. It may not be the case of course but it feels it in terms of perception. Maybe doctors embrace things that save lives whereas IT bods are only interested in saving their own jobs and status. It certainly kept Microsoft embedded for decades.

  6. Have never visited the Genius Bars at my two local Bay Area stores.

    The name “Genius” was such a blatant case of hyperbole, it conveyed insincerity from the start.

    Fortunately, Apple products have been so reliable, there has not been the need to visit a so-called Genius.

  7. The ‘personal’ touch that Apple used to have when one visits their stores has now become like a visit to Lowe’s or Home Depot(impersonal) Apple employees run and hide when you are trying to get their attention. Oh, did I mention it is loud as fuck, and you basically need to scream to be heard. Five stars down, Angela.

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