Apple quietly removed all ratings and reviews from their online store, with no official justification as to why. And this left many people wondering what Apple’s motivation was. After all, about 90% of consumers read reviews before buying a product online. And considering the Apple store offers exclusive items, it can be difficult to find the relevant information customers need to make the right buying decision.
Reviews in E-Commerce Websites
Virtually every online marketplace has them: Amazon, eBay, Etsy, B&H, Micro Center, even small Shopify stores offer user reviews. And although they’ve been the source of some controversy for websites like Amazon. Who used to allow paid reviews, allowing for honest user reviews has pretty much become standard business practice in the world of e-commerce. And there’s data to explain why.
Not only do most people read reviews before buying a product online. But simply allowing for reviews on your website boosts sales by 18%. It doesn’t matter how many are negative or positive, the simple act of demonstrating transparency and honesty builds trust with customers. And makes them more likely to purchase your product. And things get even better if most of the reviews on your store are positive, with customers trusting those comments twelve times more than the product description from the manufacturer.
So considering how many benefits there are to allowing reviews on an online store, why would Apple suddenly remove them?
Well, there’s one reason that I thought of right away.
When a new product is released, there’s usually some controversy surrounding it for one reason or another. With the MacBook Air it was the removal of the CD drive, with the iPhone 7 it was the removal of the headphone jack. And with the MacBook Pro it was the removal of all other ports except USB-C.
And with each of these releases, customers expressed their frustration in various ways. By writing articles, contacting Apple directly through support, posting on social media, or starting threads on the Internet. But another common way of complaining was through reviews on Apple’s website.
Apple would release a product like the MacBook in 2015 which opted for USB-C charging instead of MagSafe, a certain percentage of customers would be upset about that decision, and leave reviews for something like this USB-C charging cable, since you couldn’t leave reviews on anything except for accessories. Although many meaningless one-star reviews litter the product pages of Apple’s online store, there are also many legitimate reviews that bring important information to our attention. Some of them positive, and some negative.
Let’s start with the negative.
This review left on the same USB-C cable I mentioned earlier said, “I really want to love USB-C – it’s such a versatile connector, truly a technical marvel – but it’s shameful that this cable only supports USB 2.0 data speeds and that it’s not included with the purchase of a USB-C charger.”
This review is very helpful to customers since it details the products limitations, something Apple doesn’t mention in the Product Information section. As well as making it clear that power adapters and charging cables are no longer sold together. Which had been the case with previous generations of MacBooks, when their cables were actually attached to their chargers.
A good example of a helpful positive review would be this for the same USB-C cable as the previous review. This one says, “This cable is solid. They redid the jacket of the cable so I suspect we will see a lot less pealing and fraying like old mag safe. The cable supports USB device and 100 Watt USB-C PD. This is huge for a 20 dollar cable. This cable is one of the few things apple priced lower than the value it delivers. The cable is also already the max length supported by USB-C PD.”
By reading that review, we found out that Apple potentially made the cable more fray-resistant, and that it supports a much higher watt speed than the average USB-C cable. With that extra information, which Apple doesn’t mention on the product page, customers might be more likely to buy the product.
So overall, it appears that it’d be beneficial for Apple to keep reviews on their website. Especially when most customers ignore irrelevant one-star reviews anyway.
Well, it turns out that many customers had serious problems with Apple’s USB-C adapters. And they left countless negative reviews on Apple’s website detailing their experiences. It reveals the fundamental flaw of USB-C. It’s responsible for doing so much, it often doesn’t do everything successfully. But there were more adapters on Apple’s website that had similar reviews.
Here’s what some people had to say about the Thunderbolt 3 USB-C to Thunderbolt 2 adapter: “Problems with chained displays waking up from sleep and restarting” “Similar to most reviewers, I too have been plagued with problems.”. “As a bidirectional adapter, it can also connect new thunderbolt 3 devices to a Mac with a thunderbolt or thunderbolt 2 port and macOS Sierra. Except it doesn’t.”
Here are more reviews about their USB-C to SD Card Reader: “Didn’t work. The adapter never worked for me. I’ll have to take it in for an appointment and hopefully get a replacement that works.”. “Does not work with iPad Pro 3rd gen”. “Does not work most of the time. Will not mount 90% of the time and when it does decide to mount, it takes several minutes.”
So it’s undeniable that Apple has a problem on their hands by going all-in on USB-C without ensuring the technology’s reliability. And again, this problem has only been magnified with he use of adapters that may or may not work as advertised.
Apple’s Damage Control
One day before Apple removed all reviews from their website. Now could this be a coincidence? Of course. But could it also be Apple doing damage control to try and prevent this information for spreading even further? Yes absolutely. And the most revealing aspect of this whole ordeal is that Apple has always received irrelevant one star reviews on their accessories for as long as I can remember. But only recently have people been leaving a new type of review that exposes their adapters as unreliable and exposing Apple of false advertising.
And I believe it’s that phenomenon that motivated Apple to remove reviews from their website altogether. Instead of doing the right thing, which would be at least acknowledging the problem and committing to solve the issues in future product updates or with new, more reliable adapters.