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Artificial segmentation September 12, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Apple Inc., Issues.
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(No, silly. Segmentation. S-e-g-m-e-n-t-a-t-i-o-n. Get your mind out of the gutter.)

Once upon a time I worked pro-bono at a small computer store, a young man selling software and generally being an early version of someone who might work at an Apple Genius Bar, offering sage advice and tips (only back then it was 1988, Macs didn’t exist, and the Apple II+ ruled). People, discovering what they could do with their Apple IIs, came in looking for software they could use, like for desktop publishing, spreadsheets and word processing. Trying like hell to be helpful, I would usually recommend the latest and the best.

One day, someone came in looking for Broderbund’s Print Shop, which was by then old and janky, and I told them to get the The New Print Shop instead, which was better, faster and had nicer graphics libraries.

My boss observed me doing this and pulled me aside. “What are you doing?” he asked.

“Selling software, boss.”

“Don’t sell them the new ones right off! These guys don’t know any better. Get them to buy the older stock, and when they come back complaining that it doesn’t do much, then you tell them there’s something newer and better, and would they like to buy that one too? So you get two sales instead of one!”

“But that’s – ”

“That’s business.”

I never forgot that lesson. And I also never stopped believing that that was wrong.

It was one thing if we didn’t have The New Print Shop in stock yet, but still, my instinct was full disclosure: tell them there was something better, we just didn’t have it in the store yet, but in the meantime would you settle for the older version? It was entirely another to have to pretend otherwise or feign ignorance just so you could make a sale.

Apple Inc. isn’t doing this sort of thing exactly, but close enough to make me feel like they are a lot like my old boss in that old computer store.

This hullabaloo about them removing the ability to add new events on the Calendar app directly on the iPod Touch smacks of selling old Print Shop. You can add events on your computer, which uploads to the iPod when you sync, but you can’t add it on the fly. The fact that you can do this on an iPhone grates – there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to on a Touch, except for the fact that Apple is deliberately segmenting the products just to make more bucks. Like getting old Print Shop when we can get The New Print Shop anyway. Sure, they are a business, they can do what they want – but still. It’s not right.

Makes me wonder about that missing Bluetooth feature too. Shame on you, Apple.

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