Consumers Don't Dig Apple iTunes

Forrester just released its annual Customer Experience Index, a ranking of some 133 companies across 14 industries. The firms were rated by regular users according to three principles: whether the service met the customer’s needs; how easy it was to work with a firm, and how enjoyable a customer’s interactions were with the company. Barnes & Noble topped the list, with Charter Communications TV and Internet service provider taking last place for the third year in a row.

Bruce D Temkin is VP and Principal Analyst of Customer Experience at Forrester and responsible for compiling the report, and he pointed out a surprise in the ranking, which is determined by votes from 4,600 U.S. consumers. While online retailers and eBay did well, weighing in at #4 and #14 respectively, Apple’s iTunes came in much further down the list at #46.

Interesting. iTunes is often held up as being the cornerstone of Apple’s innovation, way more important and influential than the beautiful looking music-playing devices themselves. And it’s the iTunes system that has enabled Apple to disrupt the music industry so thoroughly. But on a user experience level, this cross-section of the American population is voting thumbs down (or, at least, not deeming it entirely excellent — it just scrapes a “good” rating in the survey). iTunes can be confusing, overwhelming and often less than entirely elegant. As such, it really doesn’t live up to the sophistication of the company’s other lauded design and branding elements (mind you, the offline company experience came in at #35, also a “good” verdict). Temkin points out that many of those participating in this survey are casual users, not the hardcore tech geeks so often associated with Apple products. But even so, Apple’s branding watchwords of simplicity, elegance and its intuitive design appear to be MIA in the iTunes context. What do you think?

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