So Apple, now you're doing more consumer research?

It seems that Apple, until recently thought not to be fond of consumer research, is now desperate to discover what people think of its software.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I had always thought that Apple's software was simple to use.

You press something with a nice bright color and a pretty design and the whole thing just materializes.

And yet the recent Boy Genius TV spots -- you remember, the ones where slightly older men wondered which button to click on and a genius baled them out at 4 a.m. -- made one wonder whether everyone thought Apple's software was so simple.

But it's not as if Apple is ever going to ask you, is it?

The company's legend was always that it wasn't too warm on consumer research. Well, until the recent Apple-Samsung trial where the company's Phil Schiller did admit that market research occasionally occurred .

And yet look what just slid into my inbox: an e-mail from Apple headlined: So What Do You Think?

What do I think? I think politicians all lie. I think it's wrong to dump your lover straight after their mother dies. I think I'll never see a Miley Cyrus movie.

But, no. This was a specific question: "Apple values your opinion and invites you to participate in a survey about Apple Software."

What? But you know there's no point asking me about things like that. I have no idea what I want. I rarely have any idea what I like.

I opened the survey and it revealed: "Apple has contracted Market Strategies, an independent marketing research firm to conduct this survey."

The preamble added: "The purpose of this survey is to discuss your usage of different computer applications. When you answer the questions, please be as honest and clear as possible so that we can understand what you think and how you really feel."

You want me to be honest? You want me to tell you how I really feel? How much time do you have?

Apple wants to know whether I use Windows PCs. It wants to know whether I use Windows operating systems on my MacBook Air. Apple's still got a little thing about Microsoft. Which, in its way, is a charming relief.

But what Apple really wants to know is what I think and feel about its software -- especially in comparison to Microsoft's.

There are all sorts of questions in a rather detailed analysis of all my technological habits. It feels like my annual physical. "What vitamins do you take? What brand? Are you on any prescription medication?"

However, near the end of the survey, a rather large and surprising question slides in like a cranberry orange scone after a long night on the town.

Apple wants to know whether there's something the company could do to improve my MacBook Air.

Apple is asking me how it might improve its rather fine products? Weird.

 

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