Customers can walk in, provide phone number, and be summoned to the store
According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, the latest changes to Apple retail by Angela Ahrendts is coming to stores soon. Most Apple retail stores will shift walk-in Genius Bar appointment notifications to one using customers' mobile phones as de facto pagers, not only giving time estimates for a service window, but also informing customers that an availability is opening up allowing users to shop elsewhere in a mall, rather than waiting for sometimes hours in the store.
Move encourages customers to acquire Apple ID, hurts 'appointment scalpers'
In order to fight back against "scalpers" who book up and then sell prime Genius Bar appointment times in China and some big cities around the world, Apple is instituting a new policy that requires an individual Apple ID in order to book an appointment with an Apple Retail Store's technical staff. The move should help thwart the scalpers, and also encourage customers who don't already have an Apple ID to obtain one, and thus gain access to the company's other services -- from the iTunes Store to Apple's help forums.
Microsoft takes Answer Desk service to the web
Microsoft took a low key approach Wednesday to trying to counter Apple's Genius Bar service. AnswerDesk.com takes much of the company's Answer Desk service from its retail shops to free, live chats on the web. Along with diagnosing technical problems with Microsoft software, they also provide the same non-emergency help, such as training users on Office and Windows.
Genius Bar iPads to allow for more nimble help
Apple is planning a significant revamp of the Genius Bar that could both reflect a changing of the guard and improve the experience for customers, a rumor late Saturday may have uncovered. Stores will supposedly replace the MacBook Pros with iPads, 9to5 understood, using an app equivalent to the GCRM repair management tool that they use now. The swap would let Geniuses move around the store to help diagnose systems anywhere in the store.