How has Apple turned a substandard ecommerce outage into an organic marketing blitz?

So the Apple Store went down again briefly last night. It goes down all of the time. Probably about once or twice a week. Sometimes for as much as a few hours. Much more than the Dell site or HP’s site. Or at least it certainly seems that way because just about every Mac and gadget blog announces each outage.

When Dell’s online store goes down even for ten minutes, the losses to the company are counted in the millions of dollars. Sure, most of those customers will come back when the store comes back online. However, more than just a few go somewhere else. For this reason big ecommerce companies strive to never have even a second of outage. They rightfully spend hundreds of thousands of dollars squeezing every bitof uptime out of their ecommerce system.

Not Apple. The outtages continue unabated. The Apple store is famously built on Apple’s WebObjects Server platform so the outtages should certainly be a huge embarrassment to the company. Modern ecommerce systems are able to update products and inventory on the fly. Price changes across the board? Easy. There should be no downtime for any of these activities. Redesigns? Push out some new CSS files – transparent. Why can’t Apple get their systems working properly?

Because its all part of the plan?!

Leave it to Apple to turn an embarrassment into a positive for the company. Remember those hundreds of blogs that were announcing "the store is down, are upgrades are on the way?!" That is a lot of free advertising. This is obviously spurred on because at every big Apple announcement, the store goes down. The bloggers are right, usually when the store goes out, there is something new – whether it be a price change, a new configuration or some totally new product or service.

So was it the chicken or the egg?

Did Apple plan this? We can’t remember that far back! At some point in the store’s infancy they probably did need to take it down to do upgrades. As bloggers caught on to this, Apple probably realized they were recieving the attention of a huge press blitz every time they took down the site – an advantage that far outweighed the loss in sales. To reinforce this behavior, they probably take the store down on small updates, even if their ecommerce engine allows them to do this on the fly. Where else are Mac shoppers going to go?

Of course, we could be giving Apple too much credit. The iTunes store is known throughout the music industry to have a severely archaic backend system that needs huge amounts of human intervention to operate seamlessly the way it does on the customer side. Perhaps Apple’s backend is really just that bad. Also don’t forget Apple’s customer experience priorities. After every upgrade there is probably hours of Quality Assurance going on to make sure things like references to iPhone Extremes aren’t left anywhere or Bluetooth icons aren’t left in the iPod screenshots.

Somehow I don’t think so.

 

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