Survey says: Apple customer service a secret weapon

I dropped my iPhone 4 from three stories up. Less than a day later, I walked out of the Apple Store in Philadelphia with a brand new iPhone 4. The journey to get there was very impressive and partially explains, anecdotally, how Apple keeps customers.

Redbeacon comes to iPhone to make good help easier to find

Redbeacon, the web marketplace that connects people with professional home service providers such as plumbers, painters, and yard workers, has launched its first native app for the iPhone(s AAPL).
The company, which lets you search for, get bids from, and ultimately book jobs with background-checked and licensed local service providers, has already seen solid growth since it was founded two years ago — but the capabilities in the iPhone app could help Redbeacon take off even more. The biggest new perk of the app is it lets people shoot videos, take photos or record voice memos when requesting home services; this makes it easier for consumers to show potential contractors what specifically they need done, and it saves contractors’ time in assessing job prices.

Redbeacon for iPhone screenshot (click to enlarge)

Mobile move is a ‘game-changer’

Redbeacon has already been testing its users’ appetite for mobile apps in a way, the company’s co-founder and president Yaron Binur said in an interview this week. Two months ago, Redbeacon rolled out a mobile web app strictly for service providers that works on all phone platforms, and since then more than 30 percent of the platform’s project bids have come from a service provider on the mobile app. The company expects to see a similarly strong response with its consumer app.
Binur put it this way: “We think it’s a real game changer for us. It’s hard to explain exactly what your yard looks like, or what your carpet looks like. And for providers, they’d rather not have to waste their time to come on-site to provide an estimate of how much a job should cost. The photo and video changes all that.”
The new consumer app is launching only on iOS because the majority of Redbeacon’s user base has an iPhone, Binur said. Down the line, the company will probably launch an Android (s goog) app as well.

Competition from TaskRabbit? Not quite

The service-oriented online marketplace has heated up in recent months, with companies like TaskRabbit and Zaarly garnering attention and venture backing. Binur says that Redbeacon is different from those kinds of startups since it is focused solely on the licensed service professional market. “They’re creating a brand new category, convincing consumers to contract someone else to do something that they may have done on their own previously,” said Binur. “This is an established market for a certain kind of job for your home. We don’t have to convince people; we just need to provide a better experience.”
It’s a fair point. And so far, Redbeacon’s somewhat narrowly focused strategy has proved fruitful: Redbeacon is now live in eight metro areas in the United States, and is currently seeing month-over-month growth rates of 80 to 85 percent, Binur said. Redbeacon is backed with $7.4 million in venture capital and it makes money by taking a small percentage of each completed service transaction it facilitates. Overall, I think it’s a solid approach because it provides benefits and empowerment to both the consumer and the service provider — and the mobile debut seems to have the right elements to make the process even better.
Here are a few more screenshots of Redbeacon for iPhone (click to enlarge):
      

Does the Siri outage reveal its success?

Siri went down on Thursday for its first extended outage — around five hours, according to most counts. Five hours is hardly three days (like another noteworthy recent mobile service blackout), but the reaction of media and users show Apple’s personal assistant is making its presence felt.

Turntable.fm for iPhone review: Lots of potential, lots of bugs

For fans of streamed music, another choice has arrived on the iPhone. Turntable.fm’s official, free iPhone app hit the App Store today. It requires nothing more than your Facebook credentials to get started, and looks to bring the success of the desktop version to Apple devices.

3 tips for taking your Mac in for service

Macs are fairly dependable, but there will still be occasions when you have to take them in for service at an Apple Authorized Service Provider. This can take some doing, so here are three tips about things you might not think about when moving your Mac.

4 Ways Not to Be a Doormat

When running a business, it can sometimes be hard to draw the line between being of service and being taken advantage of by customers, clients and other professionals. Here are a few ways to reinforce that line.

Are You Remarkable?

Recently I’ve been surprised by how hard it is to find anything that I would call remarkable. Everything seems to be declining in quality, and a lot of people seem to be indifferent when it comes to the quality they bring to their work.

iPad Battery Replacement Program

Though some critics like to vilify Apple (s aapl) for its practice of building devices with inaccessible batteries, the benefits definitely outweigh the consequences for such a tradeoff. The MacBook Pros are rated for up to eight hours of battery life, the iPod nanos get up to 24 hours of audio playback and the new iPad is touted to go for 10 hours on a single charge. But what happens when your iPad doesn’t get a great charge anymore? Similar to programs in place for the MacBook Pros and iPhones, Apple has announced its iPad Battery Replacement program and it’s not a bad option, all things considered.

The rules are pretty simple. If your iPad no longer holds a charge as good as it used to, you can pay Apple a service fee ($99 plus $6.95 shipping) and it will replace it. Of course, if your iPad is damaged because of an accident, neglect, liquid contact or if there is another hardware issue, then Apple reserves the right to say “No, sorry.” Fortunately though, unless your glass screen has been smashed, Apple is rarely picky on these types of issues. If your device turns on and displays what its supposed to on the screen and can connect to a computer to sync, it’s pretty much eligible for a battery replacement. Read More about iPad Battery Replacement Program

The iPad Could Mean Big Trouble for AT&T’s Network, FCC Warns

People are excited about the arrival of the iPad (s aapl) (or at least, some people are), but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is a little more apprehensive about what the device could mean for AT&T’s (s t) wireless 3G network. In an official FCC blog posting at Broadband.gov, Director of Scenario Planning Phil Bellaria and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Deputy Chief John Liebovitz expressed that concern.

Bellaria and Liebovitz didn’t specifically mention AT&T by name, but it seems fairly obvious who they’re talking about in the FCC blog post last week, especially given that the iPad so far only has one official carrier in the U.S.:

?With the iPad pointing to even greater demand for mobile broadband on the horizon, we must ensure that network congestion doesn’t choke off a service that consumers clearly find so appealing, or frustrate mobile broadband’s ability to keep us competitive in the global broadband economy.

Read More about The iPad Could Mean Big Trouble for AT&T’s Network, FCC Warns