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The sad thing is not that this is apparently a thing - no, the sad thing is that people actually believe this to be true. If you believe Apple and Google really care about you as a user, you've already lost the battle.
I think you may be thinking about this the wrong way. You may be thinking about this as if a large corporation was a person, as if you can use words like 'care' in the same way that you would when speaking about a person, a 'good' person cares and 'bad' person does not, as if it was a reflection of some sort of moral trait.
What's really being discussed here is a corporate culture and business models. We all know that companies in similar lines of business can operate in very different ways, one can have appalling customer care and quality control and one can have excellent customer care and quality control. And both strategies can be successful as business strategies, both can make money, and of course the converse is true, both can be failing strategies.
Consider Apple retail. Although almost universally dismissed as it's inception the Apple retail strategy has proven very successful at deploying a widely accessible point of retail, service and customer care contact to many millions of people. Lots of similar retail chains, including some in the tech sector, also do the same thing. But Apple chose to do it somewhat differently. They decided to go for stylish, roomy welcoming places dedicated to letting customers play with Apple kit with almost no pressure from staff (I have never been approached in an Apple store by any member of staff asking of they could help me), the Apple retail space itself feels pleasant to be in (it looks very good, stuff isn't crammed in, there's lots of space, there are free lectures anybody can sit in on), help is available from a real person sitting across a bench and focussed on what you need help with, and Apple seem to go out of their way to take the paperwork and hassle out of replacing or swapping purchases, getting things fixed. None of that is a result of Apple being good or bad, it's a business strategy, it's intended to make Apple customers feel good and come back for more. It works spectacularly successfully as a retail operation.
The point of that exposition of the Apple approach to to retail was to demonstrate that a company can choose one approach or another, both are designed to make money, but one can have as part of it's money making strategy the aim of making me feel really good about interacting with it. That's real, that's not some sort of wishy washy stuff about the innate goodness or badness of a company. It's just that some companies make you feel like shit but succeed because they sell you stuff the cheapest, or are the easiest to buy from, and some aim at a quality customer and product experience.
I think Apple does have a corporate character (a combination of corporate culture and business strategy), just like Microsoft or Samsung have specific and different corporate characters, and I really like how as a customer the Apple character makes me feel. Google has a corporate character but I am not a customer of Google and most people who interact with Google services are not customers of Google, most of Google's customers buy advertising. Almost none of the interactions anybody has with Google involve interacting with any person, and most people use Google services because they are free and they very convenient or very useful. If you are interested in very useful free stuff, and who isn't, Google delivers good stuff. But it doesn't make me feel as good as interacting with Apple and it's products do.
So to come back to your point Thom, yes I do think that some companies, including Apple, do care about me as their customer, that's a reflection of their business and product strategy and it is intended to make money in a particular way, but nevertheless I like experiencing that care. I have interacted with other companies who clearly don't give a shit about me, that's a different business strategy, and I prefer the Apple way.
People see faces in clouds and cliff faces (that is not Mount Rushmore or the Buddha caves).
Google puts up interviews and talks with authors and scientists and comedians that has nothing to do with the products they sell (apart from the deliberate plugs).
The point being is you can point to anything and make it look like a meaningful interaction. What you claim is Apple's personal interaction, I see it as people selling you stuff.
The bottom line is all corporate interactions is about selling you stuff and keeping you buying.
I may be a nerd with no social skills, but even I recognize inauthentic interaction/sincerity. [/q]
I think I may not have made my point clearly enough. I totally agree that what I see as a pleasant, enabling, supportive, accessible and helpful interaction with staff at an Apple retail outlet is just a system for selling me stuff. So what? I still prefer it to an interaction with a company that is unpleasant, difficult, unhelpful and tedious. Both approaches stem from a company's overall culture and way of doing business. Sometimes the bits of the character of a company that I interact with are the result of nobody giving a shit in the company, sometimes it's the result of someone most definitely giving a shit in the company, in the latter case really giving a shit can still lead to unpleasant, difficult, unhelpful and tedious interactions if it flows from that company's particular and very planned business strategy.
So some companies have a business strategy and deliberately engineered corporate culture that make me feel good interacting with them and using their products, some are the opposite. I prefer the first.
Comes down to this:
Apple tries to create great stuff and treat you as a person so you would spend money on their products.
Google creates great stuff so you would use it, so they could analyse you and your behavior, and sell "you". (read: advertisement)
I'm starting to dislike Google more and more to be honest, and have been looking at paid alternatives or setting up services myself. It all started with Google Reader being abandoned, probably because it was too much of a niche target group using it. So they shut down the "great" RSS reader. I switched to Newsblur and gladly pay for it. I know I am the customer. Just like with Apple - they have to keep ME happy if they want me to return. Sure, some lock-ins are attached - intentionally or just because it's convenient or impossible any other way - but their main goal is keeping me happy, not some advertiser.
Gmail is one of the last things I can't get rid of. I know Fastmail, but contact and calendar sync is missing, which is my main problem with this service. Yes I use Apple products, but their cloud products are FAR from perfect. I also don't want to end up in just another vendor lock-in for important things like mail, contacts and calendar, so I tend to skip their "iCloud" mail and contact stuff. I want to be able to switch to something new and better when it comes along. Maybe not now (although I like what MS did on their phones), but maybe in a few years? One can only dream
It quite simple; people buy into Apple's dream not their products. Edited 2013-08-14 20:23 UTC