How to be an Apple Genius

Gizmodo got its grubby little hands on a training manual allegedly used in Apple Stores. It looks credible, and answers some questions.

Apple’s marketing is incredibly effective–probably the most effective that I’ve seen in my lifetime. This manual demonstrates that it starts at the very lowest level, and it shows how Apple is able to make a go at retail, in spite of the increased overhead.

You see, long ago, I sold computers at retail. The store I worked sold Macintoshes, and Newton PDAs. I knew how to spell Macintosh, and knew what a Motorola 68040 CPU was, so on virtue of that, I sold a couple of Macintoshes. We had one Macintosh fan in the store who sold most of the machines, and I probably sold more of them than anyone else but him.

I sold a couple. A lot of people looked at them, looked at the price tag, looked at the specs, then walked back over to the PC aisle and bought a Compaq.

So Apple’s approach of running the store and training the salespeople makes sense. We never heard any of these tactics.

And it confirms that the major difference is just language. From a technical standpoint, there’s little difference between a Macintosh and a PC. Peek inside a Macintosh, and there’s an Intel CPU inside, sitting on an Intel motherboard, with standard DDR3 memory on the board and a standard SATA hard drive in it. The operating system is BSD Unix with a cleaned-up version of the Nextstep GUI I used in Computer Science 203 in college in 1995 running on top.

For the record: None of us thought that Nextstep GUI was all that. If we were lucky, we got to use one of the Silicon Graphics workstations in the smaller lab. Those were awesome sauce.

But inside that document, there’s a long list of words Apple employees are told to avoid, or in some cases, never use. Words I’ve probably used every single week (at least) for the last 20 years. For example, Macintoshes don’t crash. They freeze.

Same thing. But “freeze” sounds a little less negative.

Subtle changes to language can make big differences appear where the difference is really very small. It’s amazing.

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