Apple brings Geniuses online, lets us ask questions before we buy

Apple's latest tweak to its online store has now included a real-life genius Specialist that you can chat to if you're undecided about buying your next iPhone or iPad. If you're based in the UK, Germany, Spain or Brazil, you can surf to either product page, and an "Ask Now" button in the top right corner will offer you a choice of a phone-chat, instant messaging or a guided tour. The staffers can even help set up your newest handset once you've purchased it -- or just let you chat to someone if you're feeling lonely. If we have a worry, it's that this might be one of John Browett's schemes to cut costs, but let's hope he isn't dreaming of a future where Cupertino's personal touch is entirely replaced with an IM chat to someone in a call center.

Update: A reader took the time to point out that Geniuses are technical support reps, while Apple staffers in sales roles are more properly called Specialists. We've corrected the post to reflect that.