PC World: where tablets go to die

mockup-863469_1280I’ve had a fairly ambivalent relationship with Apple Stores over the years. Less so with PC World. As part of the Dixons stable its weary user experience makes Apple’s decision to hire and then fire John Browett all the more bizarre.

I spend more time than I’d like to in PC World trying out new Android kit. The number one problem I have with PC World is that they don’t seem particularly interested in selling you anything.

This isn’t to do with the mostly pleasant staff, it’s to do with the way they lay their wares out. No more is this shoddy, half-arsed approach to retail evidenced than in the the way tablets are displayed.

Let’s head back to the Apple Store for a second. Each iPad is wiped regularly (I guess each day) to clear all the data input by customers (e.g. Photobooth images or test Word documents) and reinstated with a pristine set of images, videos and apps.

When you pick up an iPad in an Apple Store you can do two things.

First, you can do useful things with meaningful data and secondly you can start to understand how you might be able to use it if you bought it.

If you open the Photos app you get a load of high-quality images of people far more attractive than you. You can zoom in, rotate, swipe, edit, crop – all with data that you might conceivably be using in the real world.

You can open the Videos app and watch a few moments of Cars 2, or whatever Pixar movie has been loaded.

You can open Mail and compose a message, surf the web in Safari and leave yourself logged in to Facebook.

In other words you can experience the devices as they’d be used in the real world – if you went on a lot of action holidays with a bunch of models.

A short hop back to PC World and the tablets aren’t faring so well.

Want to listen to a music track? No music installed. How about watching a video on that glossy 16:10 screen? Tough, no videos loaded. How about editing a photo? Sure, but there are no stock images just photos that another customer has taken either of the ceiling or the underside of their face.

Open the email app – if you want to play around in there you’re going to need to set up your own account. Yeah, me neither.

And here’s the killer – open the web browser and more often than not you discover the tablet isn’t connected to the store’s password-protected network.

In Apple Store an iPad can be played with and explored; it can be used and enjoyed.

In PC World, playing with a Nexus 7 or a Samsung Galaxy Tab or a Kindle Fire HD is a depressing experience, the more so because, if you’re reading this blog, the chances are you know what they’re capable of doing.

If you don’t spend a lot of time reading tech blogs about tablets and have no idea what they can do – in other words you’re a normal person – you have no chance of getting an idea how they might fit into your life.

In every PC World I’ve been to the display tablets are sad, anonymised slabs of plastic that won’t connect to the wifi and are full of grainy pictures of people’s chins.

And you wonder why Steve Jobs and Ron Johnson wanted to control the end-to-end retail experience.

Perfect example of the importance of presenting tablets with usable data profiles: my local supermarket has started selling iPads. One of them had yellow and black tape over one smashed corner, at least one is always set to inverse colours from the accessibility options screen and the demo apps have all expired on them…

About admin

Some of the stuff I do: journalism, blogging, cooking, product management, marketing communications and being a dad to two little girls. Two cats, also. I’m head of publishing and product development for a UK government website and I write for content marketing agency Collective Content. For years I wrote about Apple under the Seb Janacek byline.