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Summary:

In an article in USA Today, Ron Johnson, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, describes upcoming changes to the hugely popular One to One training and support program. Originally part of ProCare, One to One was launched in May 2007. $99 bought a 1-year membership, granting […]

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In an article in USA Today, Ron Johnson, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, describes upcoming changes to the hugely popular One to One training and support program.

Originally part of ProCare, One to One was launched in May 2007. $99 bought a 1-year membership, granting one 60-minute training or support session per week, up to a maximum of 52 sessions per year. The content of the sessions could be based on an established theme created by Apple, (eg. “Simple to Switch,” “Moviemaking” or “On the Go,” amongst many others) but could just as easily be based around a specific issue or subject of a customer’s choosing.

Since its launch, One to One has proven hugely successful, with a current subscriber base of half a million customers.

The changes Johnson describes are subtle but important, so I asked Apple for further clarification. Here’s the new deal. Whereas previously anyone could buy a One to One subscription without an accompanying purchase, beginning June 2, Apple will limit new subscriptions to customers buying a Macintosh at an Apple retail store or on the Apple Store web site.

There is no “grace period” for the undecided, either. Customers who want to buy a One to One subscription must do so on the day they buy their new Mac. Existing One to One customers will be able to renew their subscriptions for one further year.

Apple’s focus with One to One is shifting away from convincing customers to switch, to supporting customers who have already made the move from PC to Mac. “We originally set up One to One to get people to switch to the Mac,” Johnson said. “Now we want to expand it to make it even more relevant to people who have bought their Mac.”

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  1. This seems like they’re giving customers a nice, glossy, aluminum and glass middle finger. The initial emphasis behind the introduction of One to One was to help more customers return to the store because, in Apple’s eyes (and from a purely financial standpoint), those customers spent more money. Now, as the service has become more popular (like anything else… such as the Genius Bar), its become crowded, harder to get appointments when you want, and harder to have some sense of privacy when you’re actually in a session. The result is Apple scales back.

    How many customers are Apple going to alienate with this plan? Here’s an example and a true story. You have an Apple employee, sweet as she is, who really is a Switcher at heart, and who bought her very own (non-discounted) One to One membership so she could come in, on her own time, and have her fellow colleagues teach her new applications. Now, she can’t purchase One to One anymore? The customers who have had it for a few years are likely going to be using it less than those who just bought it, but Apple is still turning them away?

    Between Apple’s move three years ago to limit sessions to once a week and now to limit a membership to just two years; it just doesn’t seem to make sense from any perspective except Apple is trying to reduce the frequency of some customers just enough to make the One to One sessions a bit less crowded.

    However, I can be a bit biased in my thoughts and rage. So please, fellow readers, share your thoughts!

    1. FYI current 1-2-1 customers can renew, no problem there. Still beats trying to get help at best buy!

    2. Yes we live in Sun City Az. & we leave for the high country in the summer , we will be leaving in may & will not get our years worth of training, we was told we would get & hrs. a week but it is more like & hr. in two weeks its not good & we are not very happy about it . If we could get the hr. a week as promised we probably could learn enough to make it worth the money spent ,but like it is going no way (doesn’t fit the the learning curve )

    3. What about those customers that repeatedly make appointments and do not show?
      As for your example of employees, there are so many resources offered for training there is no reason in the world for them to be using OnetoOne.
      There are also free workshops offered to anyone. Did I mention they are FREE?
      Did you know your AppleCare includes unlimited one on one phone support? So if you are having problems you can call and ask.
      This is not a big deal at all. Much ado about nothing and a way for you to generate traffic. Sigh.

  2. Roland Ratliff Friday, May 29, 2009

    A big mistake. I was considering one on one right now to learn aperture 2. I figured that along with this, I could also learn a little more about some other mac features that I might not have known. I already have a mac, so I would not have known about all of this then. The one on one thing is a Monday morning decision, not a time of purchase thing.

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  4. I don’t understand it,

    they’ll just going to return it when they can’t figure it out, and regret they have no more options. The other choice would be to return and buy the same thing again this time purchasing one to one. OR buy an ipod? Don’t know if it counts for ipods

  5. Sharon Plante Friday, May 29, 2009

    I don’t understand why you would alienate current mac users who utilize the program to further their abilities with their mac they already own. So the only way to get one-to-one would be to buy a new mac? That makes no sense for keeping customer loyalty.

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  7. I specifically signed up for One to One when my local Apple store offered three small group classes on Final Cut Pro. If I’m not able to attend future classes, then I have no compelling reason to upgrade when the next version of FCP is released.

    This isn’t an “expansion.” It’s shutting out existing customers who may make future buying decisions based on what they learn from One to One sessions.

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  9. I completely agree with everything that has been said. From the consumer perspective…it makes no sense to establish a deadline on the One to One and alienate current mac owners (and there are many of us) who still consider the training daily to maximize our usage.

    I hope it dings sales and customer satisfaction enough to justify re-establishing the old/current One to One plan. The most ironic thing is that Businessweek just voted Apple over google for most Innovative 2009 business, but with this move and the potential power of Google Wave, Businessweek may just regret the decision.

  10. Its funny how Apple tries to put their “shiny happy” spin on news and make it sound like its what’s best for the customer. Look at how One to One has evolved over the past few years though. Originally, a customer could come in as often as they wanted (when it was ProCare). Eventually Apple adopted a once per week rule (that stores rarely enforced) to help keep more appointments available. Then to spice things up, they rebranded the service as One to One and offered members a nifty little notebook to track their learning. Of course, this didn’t last too long and the program shifted towards a set of cards that would act as a checklist for learning the Mac basics. But from what I hear, that’s gone too. Even Apple’s dedicated place in the store, The Studio, has now been turned to extra seating for people waiting for the Genius Bar. (True, One to One sessions do happen here, but in the stores I’ve been in, this area does crowd up quickly).

    The best way stores used to sell One to One was to offer a complimentary One to One session with every new Mac purchase, allowing a user to experience it and then decide if they wanted to continue on for $99. With the new plan and lack of a grace period, it sounds like stores won’t even be able to offer this. How many times do you go to buy something big and just start saying “no” to all the extra stuff a sales guy tries to add on?

    The pure logistics of a One to One membership don’t really work out anyway. If you imagine every Creative gets paid $10 an hour (hypothetically speaking), if a member uses the service more than 10 times a year, then Apple is already losing money (being that membership is $99). Am I right on this or is my logic flawed? (I’m a humble guy, so please correct me if I’m wrong).

    I really think Apple is going to see a loss of customers because of this… but I doubt they’ll ever admit that. Instead, we’ll likely perceive it as just traffic to the stores slowing down a bit, with a blame on the economy.

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