Every time I take an Apple product into an Apple Store to get it looked at by a Genius, two thoughts run through my mind. The first is how freaking packed they are these days. I haven’t been in an Apple store that wasn’t full of humanity of all stripes in years. People checking stuff out, buying stuff, or just surfing the net on one of the demo machines. Even people trying to get inside information out of the helpful employees who don’t know anything more about the next magical product in the pipeline than do you or I.
The second thought is that surely one of the secrets of Apple’s product design in the last decade has been the use of the data that these stores generate. There’s the obvious real-time point-of-sale and visitor data. But that’s not what catches my attention. Instead, it’s the data that’s generated at the Genius bar that fascinates me. This data, in aggregate, can tell Apple a lot about what machines break, how they break, and after how long in a much more direct way than what would come out of a third party service center. And, when Apple is interested in more information about certain failures, they can start asking customers for more information with very little delay.