Besides talking about improvements to business sales, showing off the Apple Watch in store, and stating that a “global solution is coming shortly” for promoting Apple Music in stores, Ahrendts used her own personal experience with her children to introduce a new Apple Watch sales tactic. Ahrendts told employees that the Apple Watch is “the greatest back to school item this year” as it can be used in the classroom without a teacher seeing, unlike with a larger iPhone. “I don’t think the teachers have caught on to the Watch yet,” Ahrendts said, adding that retail staff should tell students to “jump on it before the teachers do.”
A company that for the last 20 years or so has made education one of its primary focuses (via Mac discounts for schools, August student promos, iBooks textbooks, and other longstanding measures) is now undermining all those inroads by cynically trying to sell a niche product to pupils as a classroom distraction. Even more unfortunately, taken in the above context (which, frankly, is the only context to take it in), Ahrendts seems to be openly advocating for far worse than that.
Indeed, Apple’s senior VP of retail and online stores appears to be specifically pushing Apple Watch as a convenient way for students to cut corners. While the most damning line from the block above is a summary of an unpublished internal video to sales employees, Gurman — who apparently watched the thing — sums up the intent well enough. Plus, Ahrendt’s actual quotes completely support the notion. This lady is practically saying, “Hey kids, you can use Apple Watch to ignore your teacher and cheat on tests!”
If you know me, you know I dont get offended by much, but this is pushing it. My family has run a pair of private schools for close to 30 years now, and I ran Gurman’s story past my principal mom for her reaction. She, along with my old man, were both visibly — and outspokenly — nonplussed. As longtime school owners, they couldn’t believe what they were reading, and my pop has already put word out to our staff to keep Apple Watches out of the classroom.
This, of course, is a tack many schools are already taking, which undermines Ahrendt’s assertion that the wearable is “the greatest back to school item this year.” Imagine a kid’s disappointment when he or she finds out that their $400 “cheating device” (as advertised!) has been banned from the classroom. As sales strategies go, this is about as brazenly cynical as it gets. This isn’t Apple.
Of course, like most Apple apologists looking out for their own rear ends, Gurman is quick to chime in with the unsupported notion that
Ahrendts’s point appears to have convenience for students at its core, rather than using the device for malicious reasons.
Ahrendts clearly doesn’t understand Apple’s culture, and I expect a full retraction (or “clarification”) within a week or so. Further, I expect Ahrendts to be cut loose from Apple in short order if she keeps pumping out these shameful PR disasters.