updated 03:00 am EDT, Thu September 12, 2013
Move encourages customers to acquire Apple ID, hurts 'appointment scalpers'
In order to fight back against "scalpers" who book up and then sell prime Genius Bar appointment times in China and some big cities around the world, Apple is instituting a new policy that requires an individual Apple ID in order to book an appointment with an Apple Retail Store's technical staff. The move should help thwart the scalpers, and also encourage customers who don't already have an Apple ID to obtain one, and thus gain access to the company's other services -- from the iTunes Store to Apple's help forums.
Getting an Apple ID does not require credit card or any other payment information, though customers can register a credit card with the system if they wish. The reservations page has a path to setting up an Apple ID on the spot if users don't yet have one, though most Apple customers now do if they have an iTunes, App Store or Mac App Store account.
The login also gives users an optional iCloud.com email account, usually with their name or other easy-to-remember phrase chosen by the user as their email address. Apple IDs are useful for buying software (from iPhone apps to Mac programs), media through the iTunes Store, registering and syncing information to multiple devices, using services such as Find My iPhone and now scheduling technical assistance at Apple retail stores among other services.
The use of the Apple ID to book appointments will also make it easier for Apple support staff to pull up repair histories, warranty information and other salient data about the machine being serviced. Geniuses will be able to quickly see if any other outstanding support tickets are still active, or more quickly identify if a given machine qualifies for a recall or repair program without having to quiz the user for technical details they may not know.