MacRumors recently learned that Apple's One to One training program for Mac, iPhone and iPad may be coming to an end soon, and we can now confirm that Apple Stores are holding meetings with retail employees about phasing out the membership-based service, which has been available under its current name since May 2007. One to One members should be informed about the changes in the near future.
Apple hasn't removed the One to One page from its website at this time, but here's how the company describes the program:
One to One will help you do more than you ever thought possible with your Mac. First, we’ll set up your email, transfer your photos, music, and other files, and show you how to keep everything in sync with iCloud. Then, we’ll work with you to create a curriculum tailored to your goals, learning style, and experience level.
One to One has been around a long time. It used to be that anyone could walk in and buy a year's worth of training sessions, but over time, that changed. In 2009 Apple altered the program, making it available only to customers who bought new Macs. Here's a bit from USA Today, where Apple broke the news about the changes:
Apple's One to One subscription program will see major changes. Currently, anyone with $99 can sign up for a year of unlimited training on Apple computers and products.
But beginning June 2, Apple will limit sign-ups to people who buy new Mac computers at Apple Stores or via its website. Additionally, any of the 500,000 current One to One subscribers can renew.
"We originally set up One to One to get people to switch to the Mac," [Apple's former senior vice president of retail, Ron] Johnson says. "Now we want to expand it to make it even more relevant to people who have bought their Mac."
Still priced at $99, the annual subscription includes personal setup, transferring of files from an older computer (Windows or Mac) and help with projects.
This change made the program less accessible, but targeted it to the people who needed it most: those new to the Mac, its OS and its collection of first-party applications. While the possible field of customers shrank, One to One continued on, with Mac switchers learning about their new machines.
I am a big fan of One to One, and am sad to see it going away, if these reports are indeed true.
So is Serenity Caldwell, who worked as a One to One Trainer at an Apple Store:
One to One sessions ran the gamut when it came to topics: I'd clock in at 8:50 and have a "Welcome to Mac" tutorial session at 9 with a brand-new Mac user in their 40s; at 10 I'd be knee-deep in a Final Cut Pro project with a retired gentleman who wanted to reinvent himself as a documentary filmmaker; and by noon I'd be walking a new business owner through making a website with iWeb. (Still a thing in those days. Imagine!)
The pitch for One to One training was broad and all-encompassing: Want to learn basics? Dig deeper into the awesome things your Mac can do for you? Learn a professional program? We can help you do all these things and more.
As trainers, we studied modules and read up on our iLife and Logic apps, of course, but we were more guides and ambassadors than strict teachers. The One to One program was never designed to be a tutorial lecture: Instead, it was highly customized around the person's needs.
As a Mac Genius, I loved One to One. It was a great resource for people who needed software help that the Genius Bar just couldn't provide in our shorter appointments. Likewise, Trainers would often spot hardware or software issues on customer computers that we could deal with before they became bigger problems.
My store's One to One customers always felt connected with the staff in a way most people didn't. I watched people expand their knowledge and grow their confidence by coming in each week and sitting down with a Trainer.
Those days may be gone. I'm not surprised, really. The Apple Stores have gotten busier and busier, and my guess is the company thinks that things like workshops will help, but even the best workshop isn't as good as one-on-one time with someone.
My feeling is that this will increase the number of questions sales people have to field, and will lead to an increase in education-only Genius Bar appointments. I'm sure Apple's thought through all of this, but if One to One really is going away, it will be missed on both sides of those wooden tables.