The Pursuit of Appiness

The day of the iPad’s coming-out party, Apple stores in New York are scheduled to offer a series of workshops on how to operate the new devices. But as of five days before the rollout, according to our source, no demo devices had yet arrived in the stores, creating pangs of anxiety among the rank-and-file staffers charged with translating the tablet to the masses. Typically, executives at Apple headquarters provide store employees with a script, outlining the basic capabilities and social imperatives of each Apple device. It’s up to the Apple workers to humanize it.

“I don’t know anyone who follows the script word for word because they’re kind of corny,” said our Apple store source. “But you’re encouraged to bring in your own stories. And that’s another huge part of the Apple mind-set. How can we improve and enrich people’s lives? At first, it sounds like, ‘Oh boy, I’m drinking some Kool-Aid here.’ But it’s actually easy to do. You think, ‘How do I use this stuff? Does it enrich my life to be able to manage a large music library through iTunes?’ And so on and so forth. You’re not really drinking Kool-Aid, if it’s true.”

The iPad script is expected to arrive on Friday night. “The scripts come locked in a titanium box, handcuffed to two burly men,” said the Apple worker.

Kidding! Actually, the scripts come from corporate headquarters via an employees-only Web site. In the meantime, how it will all work out remains a bit of a mystery. “We’re still trying to figure out how to logistically do the presentation so that people can see what’s going on and not just have people huddling around like a sermon on the mount,” said our source.

JUST AS APPLE lust is a powerful driving force, so, too, is its counterpart emotion: Apple disgust. Fall out of love with Apple and you tend to fall hard. Last August, after going through three iPhones in roughly two years, the journalist Amanda Fortini wrote a piece for Salon titled “My Evil iPhone.” “This allegedly revolutionary item, this magical gadget that promised to change our lives, fails at even the most elementary tasks,” Ms. Fortini wrote. Afterward, Apple zealots went wild in the comments section, and Apple haters responded in kind.

“Apple is very polarizing,” said Ms. Fortini. “The people who love Apple, love not just the aesthetics or the technology. It’s philosophical. There’s an idealism that surrounds it and a sense that it makes you a better person. On the other hand, there are a bunch of people who feel like they’ve been duped by Apple. It’s like being in a bad marriage. It’s like, ‘Wait, you didn’t tell me about this when we were dating? And now suddenly you’re acting up!’”

Divorcing Apple is a tricky business. There are lots of entanglements. And perhaps, as a result, temper tantrums on the part of irate customers occasionally disrupt the Apple store bonhomie.

“There are plenty of times people get pissed off,” said our Apple store employee in New York. “I’ve seen people lose their shit on the floor and start yelling until you have to bring over a manager. But you’ll experience it the most at the Genius Bar. It’s largely because Apple has done such a good job at customer service and set the bar really high, that people’s expectations jump even higher. The expectation is—‘Something has gone wrong with my computer, I need it fixed … NOW!’ People turn into 3-year-olds.”

So what happens if an entire industry sets its expectations for an Apple device—dare we venture it?—too high?

Back in the Soho auditorium, the possibility of backlash was not even remotely palpable. Bob was wrapping up a presentation on how to turn your iMovie into an iDVD. He showed how to make a splash page that really popped, told an allegory about the importance of organization and reminded everyone that you had to make things simple sometimes for the sake of your mom. He told one last story about the time he used his Apple software to make a killer slide show for his cousin’s wedding. Despite all the forethought and effort, the whole thing almost fell apart because he forgot to allocate time for burning the family biopic onto a DVD. So don’t wait for the last minute, he warned. Think ahead! “Now have a nice day,” he said. “Be creative.”

And with that, Apple’s latest batch of Precision Editors were free to go forth and multiply.

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fgillette@observer.com