Oh, God, I’m getting old. I remember beige Macs and disk drives measured in megabytes. I remember when Apple Stores were laughed at by members of the technorati elite who failed to see over their internal anti-Apple bias at a great idea. A store for Apple products.
Who’s laughing now? Nobody, because those Apple Stores in the Mall and fashionable shopping districts the world over make more money per square foot than anyone except a Tesla showroom floor (one person, no showroom). Today Apple has something that Google, Microsoft, Samsung do not– nearly 500 company-owned stores worldwide. Now those same stores are going viral.
Here in San Francisco, within walking distance of my daily and sometimes nightly habitat, there’s the Union Square Apple Store which has more of a community aspect to it now than merely a place to view new products, get Genius Bar help, sit through a class, or chat up a cute Store associate (choose your own gender). This store was the first of retail chief honcho Angela Ahrendts’ new world stores; the long overdue facelift of Steve Jobs’ original vision to sell Apple’s premium line of products within a controlled premium space.
Ahrendts calls the stores Apple’s biggest products; not exactly difficult since nearly everything Apple produces could fit onto one of the Stores’ massive tables. Not only will the new stores sell appropriate techno-goodies, but they’ll be home to computer coding classes for children, thanks to Swift, Apple’s homegrown programming language. Think Teacher Tuesdays. The newly christened Creative Pros will be on hand to show Apple’s customers how to use the iPhone’s camera, download Apple Music, setup and use games. Say goodbye to the Genius Bar which will become a Genius Grove, thanks to an open atmosphere and plenty of green plants.
The Apple Stores are not even called stores anymore. Here in downtown San Francisco, the new store is simply Apple Union Square. Apple says that nearly 100 of the new store designs– viewed as town squares by Apple employees– will be implemented by the end of 2016, nearly 20-percent of the total number of stores worldwide.
Here’s the problem I have with the old stores, and thanks to Yogi Berra, you’ll understand my sentiment.
Nobody goes there nowadays. It’s too crowded.
Those madding crowds of newbies and noobs are a result of Apple’s success with the iPod and iPhone and iPad– far less so than the increase in Mac sales– which attracted a less computer savvy customer which became the company’s less technical but much larger customer base. There are many times when I visit an Apple Store and eavesdrop on a conversation between a customer and an associate and must work to control myself and not butt into the conversation; either to set a few facts straight, or tell the customer of a better Apple solution.
Apple gives products a facelift every so often, so no one should be surprised that Apple Stores are making adjustments. Nothing improves without change and Apple’s retail outlets sit far and above anything you’ll see from Best Buy or Microsoft’s own stores which are little more than sad, mini-copies of what Apple has built into an empire. Yes, the queen of retail has put on a few pounds and gathered a few new wrinkles, but you’d be surprised what a little facelift can do to a very public face.