Apple's 12 Days of Gifts prove giving can be hard

Apple is onto Day 4 of their 12 Days of Gifts, and while the sentiment was and is wonderful, there have been some hiccups along the way, both technical and expectational. Gifting at scale - and we're talking hundreds of millions of people here - is something very difficult to implement. So what's gone wrong and how could it be fixed?

Earlier this week, Apple gave away TV episodes. The link, however, took people to the paid TV show season listing, not the free individual episode. That led to confusion and complaints and, eventually, to the gift being changed for an app. However, there remained some confusion as to whether or not the episode and app had been free prior to Apple's promotion, leading to the perception that they may not have been the "gifts" everyone was expecting.

That's Apple's biggest challenge here - expectations. Today's free gift is a kids app. Unfortunately, people who aren't happy about that - or simply don't understand it - are now leaving bad reviews on the app's App Store page, which is detrimental to the developer.

On the surface, it might seem like the best solution would be to use something akin to Genius to target individualized recommendations to people based on their specific entertainment and app tastes. Yet Apple has to broker agreements with every studio, label, or developer whose song, show, or app they gift, and that's simply not possible on an individual basis.

Even working out a handful of deals and trying to do best matches could prove tricky, as no doubt a percentage of people would end up preferring - or simply thinking they'd prefer - one of the other gifts, which would result in similar confusion and complaints.

Being able to link directly to free episodes rather than paid seasons would eliminate one potential pain point. Perhaps putting some big, bold context-setting copy on the gift page, above the claim button, could eliminate another. "Day 4 - Kids game!" could set expectations before an app is downloaded.

Either way, if you're not happy with a gift, let Apple know, or ask about it here on iMore or on Twitter. Whatever you do, don't take it out on the artist or the developer.

In other words, stay classy!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.