I went to an Apple store to find out if the employees are stupid

To market its new Note 9, the Korean handset maker is again mocking Apple's Geniuses and suggesting they're not bright. They don't seem worried about it.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

Not as savvy as, um, Samsung store employees?

Samsung/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNet

We got the formalities over with quickly.

"Hi, I need to upgrade my iPhone. When is Apple going to launch the new ones?"

"I don't know," replied the Apple store employee. "Traditionally, though, it's the fall. And my money's on September."

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No, he didn't even try to sell me on the iPhone X.

"It'll still be here when the new ones launch," he said. "And they'll be cheaper."

This wasn't the main purpose of my visit to a Bay Area Apple store. You see, I wanted to tap an Apple store employee's intelligence and, indeed, their feelings.

Recently, Samsung has again been mocking Apple. This time, however, the butts of humor have been Apple store employees.

Indeed, as the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 launched last Thursday, Samsung released two more ads that showed Samsung fans going into Apple stores with the apparent express purpose of showing up Apple employees.

One mocked the iPhone X's alleged lack of power when compared with the Note 9 -- and the employee's attempt to define power.

The other crowed about the superiority of Note 9's S Pen over Apple's sweet little pencil that doesn't work with the iPhone.

I asked my Apple store employee -- let's call him Horace -- whether he'd seen the ads.

He admitted he had.

"Don't you feel a little insulted?"

He laughed, then said: "90 percent of the people who come in here are complaining about something. And the people in those ads...where else are they going to go? A Samsung store? Are there any?"

He did have a point. It seems terribly clever to accuse Apple store employees of being less than sharp, but Cupertino's excellent retail presence -- decried at the time Steve Jobs launched it -- is one of the main reasons why people buy Apple products.

They know where to go to get them fixed.

Horace told me he'd worked in Apple stores for many years. He started as a Genius.

"I didn't even have my own computer at the time. I learned from manuals and the internet," he admitted.

Now, though, he preferred to be on the floor, talking to strange people like me.

"There's one thing about those Samsung ads that's true," he told me. "People really do come in here trying to catch us out."

"What, just for entertainment?"

"Yes. When I was a Genius, people would make an appointment just to ask me some weird question that they hoped I wouldn't know the answer to," he said. "Just for kicks."

They say children are cruel. Does it really get any better when those kids grow up to be nasty little adults?

I must admit Horace seemed perfectly bright to me. He told excellent stories, he knew Apple products and he didn't try to force me into buying a phone.

The fact that he'd worked in an Apple store for a long time did suggest he was relatively immune to the sort of behavior exhibited by many customers. Was he also immune to Samsung's charms?

"Surely, though," I asked him, "you realize that Samsung phones are much more competitive these days?"

"I've never used a Samsung phone. I've never picked one up. I've never even touched one," he told me.

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