Is Apple hardware suitable for the enterprise?

I recently had to make a trip to Apple's genius bar to get technical support on a faulty cinema display. While interacting with Apple's support staff (both at the genius bar and on the telephone) I realised that Apple are not able to provide adequate support to business customers.

Update: They can provide businesses with a higher level of support, but don't seem to advertise it well. Thanks to a comment on the Hacker News thread I was alerted to Apple's Joint Venture programme. Anyway, back to the original article...

I use Apple products at work, and in my personal life. I have oodles of them, and over the last few years have had to make several trips to see a genius. As a private individual, I have no problem with popping in one afternoon to get somebody to look at a faulty iPod -- that is what I would expect to have to do.

As a small business owner the story is very different; I cannot sanction three afternoons of lost revenue in order to get a faulty piece of equipment diagnosed. It's cheaper to throw it in the bin.

Apple recently asked me to provide them with feedback on my experience at the genius bar. This was my reply.

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The genius bar is unsatisfactory for businesses. The lack of a good alternative to the genius bar is causing me to reconsider the use of Apple hardware in business. My recommendations have lead to at least 15 Apple computers being purchased by colleagues (primarily software developers), but your support system has forced me to reconsider my advice.

The reason for my trip to the genius bar was a faulty (3 year old) cinema display. It started switching itself off after about 10-15 minutes of use, and would not come back on for quite some time. On your forums I found stories of similar issues that had been resolved by the purchase of a new power adapter. On visiting the genius bar I:

  1. Had to travel across London with the display, on public transport. It's a very heavy box, so this is not a trip to undertake lightly.
  2. Was served by a tech who told me that if the problem couldn't be reproduced in the timeframe afforded by my 20 minute genius appointment, with the screen plugged into his laptop, that he'd be unable to help me. The screen would not be considered to be faulty just on my say so, and I would have completely wasted my afternoon.

I forfeit half a day of revenue in order to make the trip.

Luckily the display went black and it was diagnosed as a faulty power adapter. Could the adapter be posted to me, to save me another half day of lost revenue? No; I had to collect it from the store.

With the new adapter the display still turns itself off after 20 minutes of use. I called the store to ask for a refund on the new power adapter, and was told I need to make a third trip (worth another half day of revenue in lost business) in order to obtain a refund of £72. Why can't it be posted?

I'm better off throwing faulty Apple hardware in the bin than trying to get it fixed. Lenovo provide a 3-year next day call out contract on their laptops, for £127. They fix customers' equipment on site, keeping their businesses running.

I'm considering my options.

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I love Apple's kit, but I don't love the way they put their problems first. I also love Debian. We'll see.

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