I may vacillate between liking Apple’s iOS devices and disapproving of Apple’s policies, but sometimes Apple is capable of doing cool things completely unrelated to hardware and software matters. Kevin Rose has posted to his blog a couple of interesting emails from an Apple Store employee in Japan.
The messages detail the heroic measures Apple took to help both the people of Japan, who relied upon the store’s open wireless hot spots (a rare thing in Japan) to message their families, and Apple’s employees (retail and corporate), who were faced with offices fifty floors up in buildings with no working elevators. The email tells of employees staying out front even after stores were closed to help the people who still huddled in front of the store using the wifi, and of Apple’s decision to let all Apple employees camp out in the Apple Stores (where canny managers had quickly stocked up on food and drinks immediately after the quake first hit).
Once staff let their families know that they were not only safe but how comfortable we were (break room refrigerators stocked with food and drink, etc), family members began asking if they could stay at the Apple stores as well. Of course Apple said yes. One business team member’s stranded mother walked 3.5 hours to be with her daughter at the store. When she arrived, the Apple store staff gave her a standing ovation ("Warm Welcome") like they do for customers during a new launch.
And Apple also told employees who wanted to try to get home on their own that the corporation would cover food, drink, transportation, and hotel fees (often exorbitant) that they incurred along the way.
Of course, someone points out in the comments that a number of other stores in the Ginza shopping district also went above and beyond in providing shelter to people after the quake (though a number of them didn’t), so this isn’t exactly isolated behavior on Apple’s part. Still, it’s quite cool to hear about people pulling together to help other people in the aftermath of a disaster.
In a related note, Apple is delaying the Japanese launch of the iPad 2, which had previously been scheduled for March 25th. A new launch date has not yet been set.