With all the reports about the devastation—and our reporting on subsequent PR gaffes—this is a feel-good story amid all the tragedy that’s struck Japan.
In an e-mail to Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg, an Apple employee (who remained anonymous) explained the steps the company has taken in the aftermath of the disaster. The employee wrote:
“7 hours and 118 aftershocks later, the store was still open. Why? Because with the phone and train lines down, taxis stopped, and millions of people stuck in the Tokyo shopping district scared, with no access to television, hundreds of people were swarming into Apple stores to watch the news on USTREAM and contact their families via Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail. The young did it on their mobile devices, while the old clustered around the macs. There were even some Android users there. (There are almost no free Wi-Fi spots in Japan besides Apple stores, so even Android users often come to the stores.)”
Three days after the earthquake, the employee e-mailed Rose to explain further what Apple is doing for its employees:
“Because the trains and phones were down, almost everyone who worked in Tokyo was stranded deep in the city. All the hotels were booked, the roads were jammed, so hundreds of people were instantly homeless. Apple told all of their staff—retail AND corporate—that they could go sleep at the Apple stores. The senior managers at the stores had been notified earlier and unbeknownst to us, had gone out to stock up on food and drinks after the very first quake hit.”
The Wi-Fi in the store enabled employees to contact their families, and—speaking of their families—Apple also let relatives of employees sleep at their stores.
“One business team member's stranded mother walked 3.5 hours to be with her daughter at the store. When she arrived, the Apple store staff gave her a standing ovation ("Warm Welcome") like they do for customers during a new launch.”
If Apple employees wanted to leave the store to try to get home, the company offered to reimburse them for any food or drink, and, if they couldn’t make it home and managed to find a hotel room, Apple also offered to pay for that, the employee said.
“Your safety is most important,” an Apple executive in Japan told employees.
You can read both e-mails in full at Rose’s blog
, including the comments, which are overwhelming positive for Apple.