Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh
Any specifics? Product line, support, inventory, sales team, FileMaker?
I would think the product line is reasonably well suited for Japan (although the 17" MBP and MacPro would be non-starters).
Keep in mind we have two Apples operating in Japan: Apple US operates the walk-in stores, Apple Japan does everything else (local resellers, online store, support).
The Japan Call Center is horrible; even a reseller I spoke to yesterday said he has a hard time recommending Apple products because of the troubles he and his customers have had with the Call Center. Staff at an Apple Store (walk-in), which is run by Apple US, said that they had received many complaints about the Japan Call Center. The call center is very reluctant to pick up any machines and once even blamed a keyboard problem I had on me: they said I probably typed too hard, and refused to check my computer... until the discussion boards were filled with similar cases.
Personally, I have gone in to detail in other threads about some things. One story I have not yet mentioned (at least anytime recently) is I had a situation whereby I called the Call Center and ultimately they said that they would have Customer Relations call me back. This came from the manager of the call center. I'm still waiting for the call and it has been two years.
Sales: spotty service. Two years ago, my local shop was suddenly marked as excellent by AJ and given a fabulous in-store display complete with video, etc. Sales reps came down twice a month. The reps' visits slowly decreased in number, then ended, with no word from AJ. The display was suddenly withdrawn by Apple last year without a visit from a rep and again no explanation to the shop. This month, the shop was suddenly told they could no longer sell Apple products (this was communicated by phone to a floor salesman, not the manager; in the same call, AJ cancelled an order for a Mac that had been placed by the shop and AJ had even sent out a shipping date for). Some of the younger sales reps had poor manners: chewing gum during presentations, ruffled appearance (necktie with the tie very loose, shirt not buttoned... they could have gone for the t-shirts). A couple of shops in town have been fairly unhappy with the sales staff for some time; the recent moves have managed to really prove the last straw for at least one shop; even if AJ decides in the future to again sell through electronics stores, this shop will more than likely say no.
There are lots of things I could go into, but it's late (1:20am) so I gotta hit the sack. I love Apple's products. I just think AJ has a spotty record of quality and service. It is hard to buy from them with confidence. If they cleaned up their act a bit, sales would increase and buyers would stay (I heard yesterday one shop in town sells lots of PCs to Mac owners switching back to PC). Japan also is very Windoze-friendly. The iPhone and iPad are outside the realm of PC/Mac, so they should be able to do well here.
On the other hand, my experiences at the Apple Stores (walk-in) have been excellent. It is a different world from dealing with Apple Japan.