It’s Not Just You, Shopping at Apple Is Really Complicated
When it comes to the retail experience, Apple has risen the standard. They place a huge emphasis on employee knowledge so they are able to comfortably and confidently talk to customers. I know from experience that Apple cares about its employees and customers, and they want the customer experience to be the best one possible.
There was a time when I was super knowledgeable on Apple’s product lines, but I also thought they were super intuitive. Each product had a name and potentially a descriptor. Think back to 2005: you had the iPod and the iPod Mini. If you opted for an iPod, you would probably be able to deduce it was larger than the Mini variation. There were many other differences between the two products, but you were able to identify the key difference on name alone.
Over time, Apple would produce more products. We had “Airs,” “S”-lines, “Pros,” and new products with no descriptors. As Apple added more, understanding the products became a little more complicated.
The iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro lines are becoming available so interest in the smartphones are going to be high. We are approaching the holiday season and living in a time where e-commerce is more important than ever. As someone who has been an Apple consumer for the better half of my life, I go online, browse products, and ask myself: how do I know what I want?
For a company as intuitive as Apple, it seems their online presence leaves something to be desired. In fact, their retail section wasn’t integrated with their product pages until 2015. If I wanted to purchase an iPad Mini when it was first released, I would start by landing on the product page. After looking up information I would need to migrate over to the “Store” section of the site.
Remember, Apple has had a presence online since the ’90s. Before the retail stores opened Apple would sell their products in select retailers as well as their online store. The first Apple Store dates back to 2001, but Apple’s online retail store opened in 1997. This gave them the freedom to craft an online retail experience before many other brands.
Apple probably wanted a no-pressure shopping experience, but this would evolve into a non-familiar experience. If you shopped at a store like Best Buy or Verizon you would be able to get a product description and add the item to your cart on the same page. As a brand, Apple is known for having their own style, but eventually, they would have to cave and provide the experience that was familiar to customers.
Regardless of how Apple built their online presence, they are a frontrunner in the retail landscape. Even if they opted for an unusual e-commerce experience, we’d expected it to be easy to use. Now, when going online, Apple customers are going to find something the brand once tried to avoid: complications.
The iPhone: Layers of Confusion
I went onto the Apple website trying to answer two questions: what phones do they sell and how much do they cost? I began the process with one key piece of information: the iPhone 12 is here and the line-up is different.
Keep in mind, Apple added an extra layer of complexity to this equation. Last year they introduced their first “Pro” model during iPhone 11 release. This year, the iPhone 11 retired its pro variation, meaning this is an iPhone line that is not longer available.
So I began this journey by clicking “iPhone” on the top menu. Simple enough.
(Photo: iPhone page on Apple.com. Screenshot taken 10/27/20)
This did take me to a dedicated iPhone page, but the information I needed was somewhat buried. In fact, I started to get a bit more confused as I scrolled. Keep in mind, this article is being written shortly after the iPhone 12 announcement. Some products have already been released, but other products are still yet to be released.
At the top of the iPhone page, I did see a list of five phone models on the secondary menu. So, I assumed these are the available models. As I scrolled, I found that these products were being compared to one another about halfway down the page. This left a few sections before the comparison
This comparison left much to be desired for two reasons. Firstly, the iPhone XR is not part of the list. This phone was released in 2018, but Apple still sells the phone. Admittedly, the iPhone SE is newer and cheaper, but does that matter? Apple is still selling the XR, so why are they hiding it?
My bigger issue comes from the two sections above the comparison chart. In these sections, the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Mini are introduced. As of the writing of this article, the two variations are yet to be released.
After doing a bit of research, I’ve come to understand these are size variations. The 12 Pro Max is the iPhone 12 Pro with a larger screen while 12 Mini is the iPhone 12 with a smaller screen. This is not clear, especially if you have any familiarity with prior Apple products with similar names. My first Apple product, the iPod Mini in 2004, was different from an iPod Classic is more ways than size alone.
As I scrolled through the iPad page, it felt much different than the iPhone page. There were fewer animations and announcements. Rather, it felt like an introduction to the product lines. The first four sections were dedicated to the available iPad models, their starting prices, and a button allowing you to buy. Then, you get to a side-by-side iPad comparison similar to the one on the iPhone page.
(Photo: Apple MacBook)
(Photo: The Music page on Apple.com as of 10/27/20)