John C. Welch is an idiot. Apple's employees have "unmanaged random customer contact" all the time, and the company actually likes talking to its customers. All of this happens in places called Apple Retail Stores. You may have heard of them, inconspicuous as they are. And oddly enough, those activities are generally good for their business.
Evidently Chris missed this part of the article he's talking about, wherein I mention the Apple retail stores:
If anyone thinks the powers that be at Apple have ever liked the idea that just anyone could walk up to them for 4-5 days and ask inconvenient, (read: "any") questions of their employees, y'all are smoking crack. Apple does not like that. At all. Without Macworld Conference & Expo, here are the all the avenues that average customers can directly contact Apple: The physical Apple Stores, the online Apple Store, a small handful of public email addresses which all involve the word "feedback", mailing lists, and the AppleCare support line.
Now, how many of those aren't completely controlled by Apple? The closest you get are the mailing lists. How many of those give you any form of direct contact with the people actually making Apple products? That's right. None. No, the physical Apple Stores don't count. None of the people working there are involved with Apple other than as a way to sell you stuff, and front line tech support. There is a chasm of both infinite depth and width between the Apple Stores and the rest of Apple. Apple Stores have no advanced knowledge of anything. In fact, quite often, they're noticeably behind.
Obviously, I was not specific enough for Chris, and others like him. (I've found there's never a solo dingaling.) So here goes:
The Apple Retail Store environment is managed by Apple to an unbelievable degree. It is about as random as a Disney visit. They know what you're going to do in there better than you do. In fact, they even have training in "How to speak Applese". What, you think that shit was just coincidence? Nope. That's training. If you ever meet poorheather, ask her to do her impression of it, (she used to work in an Apple Store), it's fucking HILARIOUS. Especially with the vacant marketing drone stare she uses with it. They are managing you from the moment you walk in until you leave.
That's called the retail experience. It's designed to sell you stuff. The difference between that, and what happens at a Macworld Expo is enormous. It's not even in the same room as the level of random as the encounters at a Macworld Expo show floor. Really.
They are also not going to be able to tell you fuck all about Apple products beyond what they're allowed to. So no, you can't go up to a Store drone, not even a genius, and ask them about <bizarre intricate issue> and get answer one beyond what they're allowed to tell you. However, a lot of the booth drones at Macworld Expo are in fact, engineers. I know for a fact that at least two VPs of product marketing do booth time. It's actually more, but I can only prove two. So at an expo, you stand a not bad chance of talking to the person who either wrote some of the code you're bitching about, manages the team who writes the code you're bitching about, or can point one of the two out to you.
That is random contact. The Apple Retail store is a moat between You, The Public, and the people at Apple who Make The Products. Apple most certainly never, ever, ever wants The Public talking to the people who Make The Products outside of very carefully controlled venues, none of which is described as "talking on the show floor at Macworld". Really.
So if you're going to call someone an idiot, you might want to make sure you know what they're actually talking about, and not try to insinuate that talking to the kid selling you an iPod is the same thing as talking to the engineer who runs the Xserve group.
'Cause they aren't.