Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:
Apple may soon end its $99 "One to One" tutoring program for Mac and iOS users, according to a source that has provided MacRumors with reliable information in the past. Our source says Apple is stopping the program to allow retail employees to focus on hosting a greater number of free workshops, which multiple people are able to attend at once.
One to One has been circling the drain for awhile. When I left Apple over two years ago, there were already constraints being put on appointment availability. New Creative positions weren't being actively hired for. It was also more difficult to move into those roles, with managers favoring pushing people toward Family Room Specialist or Genius. Talk at the time amongst team members speculated about One to Ones being phased out entirely and the Creative role absorbed into a different area of the business.
If Apple is moving into offering more free classes for customers, that will help mitigate some of the pain of losing personal training sessions. However, I'm seeing some comments (yes, I broke my own rule) saying that this isn't a big deal; Macs are so ubuquitous now, or people can find training online, or free classes in a group setting will be enough. They're completely missing the point. It's insular views like this that drive people to say stupid things like, "If you don't want the default Android skin, just root your device. No big deal." They assume that everyone possesses a capability comparable to their own, completely ignoring the fact that they are in the vast minority.
I understand why Apple might lean toward the one-to-many approach. It's something they've been pushing for years with Genius Bar appointments, Personal Setup sessions, and even on the sales floor. But there are people out there that truly do benefit from sitting down with a patient expert who will help them slowly but surely master something that is new or difficult to them. No matter how proficient your facilitator, that level of service and care can't be replicated in a group setting. There will be those who are left behind by this approach.
I'd also love to know what happens to Creatives in general. Since many were already doubling up on helping with mobile or Mac appointments, do they all just get rolled into the existing FRS/Genius teams? They won't need a huge pool of personal trainers, when a fraction of the staff can deliver sessions to a large group of people. It makes me sad to see the talent they possess go to waste. And, yes, I am well aware that those talents weren't always being utilized when their sessions turned into hour-long walkthroughs of OKCupid for their elderly trainee (true story), but there are those customers out there that did want to learn, did take something away from their experience and did cool things with their Mac.
We used to tell a story (also true) to new hires during Core (Apple's new hire training). In summary, a French woman bought a Mac and had a One to One membership. Her husband had passed away, and she found a box full of old film reels she had captured from when they were younger. The Creative she worked with advised her on getting them converted to digital, and then, over the weeks, taught her iMovie so she could create a film with all of the footage. These are skills and experiences she wouldn't have been able to glean from a massive workshop. Would someone like her, someone older and maybe tentative about using a computer in the first place, even feel confident enough to attend a group session in the first place?
That's the power of One to One, and as much as I understand why it would go away, it's a wonderful service that is unmatched by any other company out there. That type of marketing goes a long way, and it created a ton of goodwill from those who might otherwise not consider Apple in the first place.
Update (8/27/15): Confirmed. Pour one out for One to One.