How Apple Helped People in Japan Gave Us Warmth At Heart

This is probably one of those geeky stories that can actually give you the warmth and feeling of togetherness during disasters.

During the current earthquake and Tsunami incident in Japan, Apple went the extra mile to aid the people there providing help you can never imagine anyone would provide at such catastropic situation.

An email sent to Kevin Rose tells the whole story.

Dear Alex L, David, & Kevin,
Hi this is XXXXX in Japan. As you all must have heard, the 5th largest earthquake in recorded history hit us on Friday, 2:30pm Japan Time. As Alex often says on TWiM, stories on the ground are often quite different from the stories in the news, and there is a tech story that I’d really like to tell: the story of Apple Inc in Japan.

Full disclosure: I work at Apple as a manager at one of its stores in Japan. The earthquake hit while I was working on the first floor of one of their stores. As the entire building swayed, the staff calmly led people from the top 5 floors down to the first floor, and under the ridiculously strong wooden tables that hold up the display computers.

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 email. 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 wifi spots in Japan besides Apple stores, so even Android users often come to the stores.)


Apple Store in Tokyo

You know how in disaster movies, people on the street gather around electronic shops that have TVs in the display windows so they can stay informed with what is going on? In this digital age, that’s what the Tokyo Apple stores became. Staff brought out surge protectors and extension cords with 10s of iOS device adapters so people could charge their phones & pads and contact their loved ones. Even after we finally had to close 10pm, crowds of people huddled in front of our stores to use the wifi into the night, as it was still the only way to get access to the outside world.

Anyway, I mention this not because I work at Apple now, or because I’m an admitted fanboy, but because I’m genuinely proud of the Apple Japan staff and their willingness to stay open to help people that day. And I’m also impressed with the way Apple’s products (and yes, Google’s, Twitter’s, and Facebook’s) helped them that day. Even after we had to close, many of the staff stayed outside the store to fixing iphones and teaching people how to contact family or stay informed via wifi.

TWiM, TWiT and Rev3 have talked about the power of tech & the cloud during the recent global events, so I wanted to let you know of one more example during the Great Tohoku Earthquake in Japan.

Sincerely,

XXXXX
Great Tohoku Earthquake Survivor 2011

Read part 2 on Kevin’s blogg