Apple Store web site: Poor performance with limited bandwidth

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
July 16th, 2008 • 11:25 am

I’ve been shopping at the on-line Apple Store for a few years now and every time I vist the site, it’s the same thing: pages take forever to load, and quite often something in the content of the page causes Safari to temporarily become completely unresponsive, with the Spinning Beach Ball of Death.

I am quite sure that this is at least in part due to the fact that my Internet connection is not very good. It’s a “high speed via satellite” connection, which means that: (1) the speed is not very high; and (2) that there is a certain amount of latency.

But still, it’s not dial-up, and really I would expect them to be able to optimize their store pages so that they load faster for everyone.

I know that this is probably due in part to the fact that Apple’s web store pages typically contain lots of stuff, in order to entice customers. But I also do a lot of shopping at Amazon, and their pages also contain lots of stuff. But they never cause Safari to lock up, and they typically load much faster than Apple’s web store pages. I also shop at numerous other on-line stores, and none of them performs as poorly as Apple’s own store.

I am afraid that, at some point, cramming too much stuff onto a page in order to encourage the buyer to buy more can have exactly the opposite effect! If the page takes forever to load, obviously there is a risk that the buyer will simply give up on the site altogether…

And the problem does not affect just one store in particular. I have tried the US Apple Store, the Canadian Apple Store, and the Canadian Educator’s Apple Store. The problem is the same everywhere.

I find it rather ironic that Apple’s own web site is the only web store where I shop that causes Apple’s own web surfing application to become unresponsive, which is very annoying (when you are trying to do something else in Safari while the Apple Store pages are loading) and frankly not very impressive.

Objectively, if I were not a long time Apple customer and this were a new experience for me, I would be very disappointed and probably not feel encouraged to shop at Apple on-line ever again.

I know that Apple has a bit of a elitist streak and tends to ignore the needs of people whose Internet connections are on the slow side, but this is the store pages we are talking about, i.e. the very last place where you want to discourage people from coming back. Surely the shiny dollars of web users with slower Internet connections have the same value as the shiny dollars of people with high bandwidth connections…

And frankly, given the type of performance that I am getting, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear even from people with high bandwidth connections who still experience these temporary lockups in Safari with Apple’s web store pages.

The ultimate irony was that, yesterday, after buying something at the store and experiencing the poor performance yet again, I decided that I should write to Apple about it. Once my order had been processed, I was taken to a “thank you” page at the bottom of which there was a button inviting me to share my comments on my shopping experience, if I had any. “Perfect,” I thought, just what I wanted.

I clicked on that button and… I was taken to a “404 Not Found” page.

Ahem. It looks to me like Apple is not that interested in the shopper’s opinions once he has completed his purchase after all.

One Response to “Apple Store web site: Poor performance with limited bandwidth”

  1. ssp says:

    Heh, that 404 is a nice touch :)

    I think it might be best to simply phone their store rather than using their web site. As I guess you actually know what you want that may be faster for your and more expensive for Apple. And ‘more expensive’ may be the only language their beancounter heart understands.

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