The next time Apple fans head to their local stores for a Genius Bar consultation, they might notice some slight changes. ifoApplestore writes that Apple stores are changing their Genius Bar layouts ever-so-slightly to help accomodate more customers and to get their questions answered more quickly. Specifically, ifoApplestore says that the new layout being tested in an Apple Store will “pivot the [Genius Bar] table by 90-degrees so that it’s perpendicular to the rear wall of the store, and to eliminate the iconic kids seats and tables.” What’s more, the new layout will emphasize “the use of iPads to manage service records,” thus further increasing available space in the Genius Bar. ifoApplestore says that it doesn’t know whether Apple plans to roll out the revamped Genius Bar to other stores or if the company is still experimenting with different formats. More →
Apple’s head of retail is leaving the company to become President of JC Penney, Bloomberg said in a wire report. Prior to the move, Ron Johnson lead Apple’s retail strategy and was responsible for its overall performance according to his executive bio on the Apple website. Apple’s retail business reeled in $3.19 billion in revenue last quarter, and it the company is widely heralded for its leadership in the space. Shares of JC Penney stock jumped more than 14% on the news.
Apple’s first foray into retail was a giant question mark on May 19th, 2001, when Apple opened the doors to its first two retail locations in Glendale, CA and McLean, VA. Ten years later, Apple’s retail stores are a crucial piece of the puzzle that has been assembled to create a customer experience unlike any other. “Apple today announced that its first two retail locations welcomed over 7700 people and sold a combined total of $599,000 of merchandise during their first two day weekend,” an Apple press release boasted on May 21st, 2001. Despite the solid weekend, several media outlets lambasted Apple for its decision to target high-rent areas with its first flock of retail shops while Gateway had just closed the doors on its retail endeavor. “I give them two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake,” one analyst was quoted as saying following Apple’s retail debut.
But the company was still optimistic. “We are blown away with the numbers,” CEO Steve Jobs said following the stores’ opening weekend. “More importantly, customers have told us they love everything about the store—from the knowledgeable sales staff to the Genius Bar to the store’s design and unique approach to presenting digital lifestyle solutions.” In fiscal 2009, Apple Stores grossed $6.65 billion globally for $1.66 billion in profit. In fiscal 2010, Apple’s retail stores pulled in $2.36 billion in profit on $9.8 billion in revenue. So far over the first six months of fiscal 2011, Apple has made $1.84 billion in profit on revenues of $7.04 billion. Apple’s gravity defying retail performance can’t keep climbing forever, but from where we’re sitting, opening those first few Apple Stores 10 years ago seems like it worked out pretty well. And we’re fairly confident Apple still has a few tricks up its sleeve to ensure that the crowds keep coming. Hit the break for a video of Steve Jobs introducing the world to Apple’s first Apple Store. More →
Apple is giving its Apple Stores a “Apple Store 2.0″ makeover, according to a rumor from 9to5 Mac. Reportedly, the stores — with design input from Steve Jobs himself — will feature new designated “startup session” areas where, presumably, new customers will be taught how to use and setup their new products. Similarly, Apple will replace signs in its stores with interactive iPad units, and will offer more interactive product bars. Cupertino isn’t skimping on multimedia, either, and is said to be outfitting its Apple Store 2.0 destinations with new audio systems and much larger displays. Rumor has it that Apple may also deploy a new Apple Store application for iOS devices that will allow users to schedule appointments as they walk into the store. Sounds like it could be a nice way to celebrate Apple’s 10th retail anniversary. More →
We don’t have too, too much info on this one, but one of our Apple sources let us know about an Apple-created application for the iPhone and iPad that is set to be released tomorrow. We’re told it’s a general service application that’s more or less a mobile version of the Apple.com website, in an app form. It will be free in the App Store and will allow users to make Genius Bar appointments, check new product in stock availability, book one to one training sessions, and basically shop the entire Apple product list. Supposedly one of the reasons for this application is to let me people check in more swiftly to genius and training appointments. We’ll know tomorrow…
P.S. The app icon is said to be blue with an Apple in the middle.
UPDATE: MacRumors is hearing the same thing. We’ll see!