NEWS: ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY
By Cliff Edwards

For years, Apple Computer CEO Steven P. Jobs has tried working with retailers to make shopping for Apple’s stylish products as appealing as using them–everything from setting up kiosks to special sections adorned with Apple’s Think Different posters. Still, the computer maker’s share has fallen, and Jobs figures he knows why. “Buying a car is no longer the worst purchasing experience. Buying a computer is now No. 1,” he griped at the MacWorld trade show in January.

Now, he’s taking matters into his own hands. On May 19, Apple will open a swanky new retail store–the first of as many 110 nationwide–at Tyson’s Corner Galleria mall outside Washington. While Apple execs won’t comment on their plans, the idea seems clear: Well-trained Apple salespeople in posh Apple stores can convince would-be buyers of the Mac’s unique advantages, including its well-regarded iMovie software for making home videos and its iTunes program for burning custom CDs…

The way Jobs sees it, the stores look to be a sure thing. But even if they attain a measure of success, few outsiders think new stores, no matter how well-conceived, will get Apple back on the hot-growth path. Jobs’s focus on selling just a few consumer Macs has helped boost profits, but it is keeping Apple from exploring potential new markets. And his perfectionist attention to aesthetics has resulted in beautiful but pricey products with limited appeal outside the faithful…

Maybe it’s time Steve Jobs stopped thinking quite so differently.

Apple now has over 320 stores around the world. Cliff Edwards still writes for Bloomberg Businessweek.

Thanks, Charles Jade




  1. UncDon says:

    I remember that original article and … agreeing with it.

    And then in early 2002 I visited my first Apple store. Such a radical departure from what other stores selling PC’s (or even Macs) were all about.

    You can see it in their website, too. How many PC companies have their designers talking about aesthetics and whiz-bang technology in the same sentence?

    Just plain wow how wrong people can be.

  2. Maine Bud Smoker says:

    Windows Movie Maker is Awesome
    Windows Media player can catalog and burn cds just fine.

    Apple is over priced pc hardware with over glorified unix BS!

  3. JimD says:

    Well, so much for the pundits !!! How much has Apple stock risen since 2001 ?

    By the way, most of the personalities in the “Think Different” campaign were DEAD AND NOT THINKING ANYMORE !!! (Einstein, Gandhi, etc …)

  4. Nobody says:

    If Apple was only going to be selling PCs then he was correct. Apple stores make a huge loss on PCs – most PC users are visiting to have their machine fixed not to buy.

    BUT what the commentator didn’t know was that Apple was about to launch the iPod, then the iPhone, iPad and iWhatever next. Suddenly having a chain of fancy retail stores look good.

    With a little more humility and a bit more thought – the article should have been. “Apple are opening all these stores, it would be crazy if they are only selling computers, what are they planning to do?”

  5. spsffan says:

    Actually, Apple Stores do serve a useful purpose. They attract all the fan boys and girls away from the rest of the shopping area, so that I don’t have to deal with the arrogant, dimwitted, primadonnas.

  6. Dans says:

    Hes not saying the stores wont be a success, he says that it wouldnt get ‘Apple back on the hot-growth path’ unless he relents from the ‘perfectionist attention to aesthetics [which] has resulted in beautiful but pricey products with limited appeal outside the faithful’

    And regarding the desktop OS and to some extent, the mobile OS, he was right.

  7. GregA says:

    Yeah, and all the other phone companies have stores in shopping malls as well. This is news how?

  8. Milo says:

    I’m the kinda’ guy who wonders if these sort of articles are written by Apple’s competitors.

    As I’ve said before, the best way to analyze what the media puts out these days is to assume its paid for and written by some PR department and that proposition must be disproved before one can give it credit as journalism.

    Astro-turf and well-poisoning can yield useful information too, but usually only if they are viewed through a jaundiced eye; often they indicate the very opposite of what they say on their face, as, I’d say, here.

  9. Skeptic says:

    Such sour grapes. Yes Apple PC’s are overpriced since Microsoft (after 15 -20 years?) finally copied Apple’s OS enough that they could compare favourably. Apple products are more expensive because they still lead in innovation, design and customer service compared to most other PC brands. Graphics professionals can finally trust that regular PC’s will do the job dependably, and commercial printers finally don’t have to cringe and swear when a PC file come in the door. Cars are the same way. Many cars cost a lot more because of their name, but they don’t run any better or last any longer than an average ford or Chrysler… and they cost way more to fix. A total waste of money for people with lots of money to waste. There will always be those who have the money for Apple, Gucci, Rolex etc, and my bet is that Apple PC will drop a little, but will ultimately keep most of their current share of the market.

  10. sargasso_c says:

    Odd enough, New Zealand is the only developed western English speakin’ country without an Apple Store. And their product penetration is as high or even higher than in countries with them.

  11. Floyd says:

    I was in an Apple Store yesterday, getting something minor fixed on my wife’s Macbook. A couple observations:

    Yes, Macs are overpriced. One reason seems to be that Apple attracts clueless newbies to their stores, which means the clerks have to do a lot more hand holding for their customers. This means more overhead. Nice for the newbies, worse for the bottom line.

    Another observation is that while Apple gives a lot of hand holding, PCs are often far easier for people just pick up and use.

  12. I'm from the future! says:

    Clueless newbies? How new?
    My 3yr. old grandson thru a FIT when we started to walk past the local Apple store! When he saw the logo on the window it was: “Apple! there’s the Apple!”
    Ha! he went straight to the iPad and also wanted to do facetime on the iMac!

    Can you imagine when he grows up?

    LIke when he is 4?
    WOW!

  13. msbpodcast says:

    Someone has to tell that horses ass that an Apple store is not a computer store, its not a corporate store, its not a cart selling phone cards at the bus terminal.

    Stop comparing Apple to oranges.

    Apple stores are places to go and buy apple products just Toyota dealerships are places to go to buy Toyota products.

    Apple is a CONSUMER PRODUCTS MANUFACTURER and the Apple store is its retail atm.

    They make a very limited range of excellent CONSUMER products and THAT’S IT!

    Jezus, blow hards who come at it with ANY other optic piss me off.

  14. nicetry says:

    #2 Nice try Ballmer.

  15. msbpodcast says:

    In #5 spsffan said: attract all the fan boys and girls away from the rest of the shopping area, so that I don’t have to deal with the arrogant, dimwitted, primadonnas.

    Aren’t you glad there’s an Apple store then.

    If they’re going to the store and spending all of this money and they’re ignoring you, you’re sounding a bit “indier that thou” primadonna-ish yourself.

  16. Cliff Edwards and #2 should both be kicked in the nuts.

  17. Animby - just phoning it in says:

    You should see how they implement Apple stores in Thailand. I know of three of them. One is a storefront shop om a busy backstreet with no parking available and, last time I walked past, exactly three computers on display. They seem to do a big business in repairs, though.

    The other two are actually big kiosks in the two shopping malls in my city. They always have a lot of people in the, looking and touching, I don’t see much buying. And why should they buy this way-overpriced stuff when they can walk down the hall and buy knock-offs made in the same Chinese factories for half the price (or less)? The knock-off iPads were available here months before the real thing.

    True story: I own exactly one piece of Apple gear. An AirPort router. Like all Apple crap it is lovely to look at and works a charm though about once a week it pops up a request I download crapware. Anyway, the local Apple store sold me the device (at a higher price than in US or UK) and, when I got it home I discovered it came with a connector for UK electricity. I needed the router so just went back and asked for an adapter. They wouldn’t give me one but offered to SELL me one for what amounted to US$20! They sold me unusable gear at a premium price and then offered to sell me something to make it useable at an even more exorbitant price! Now, that’s customer service at the authorized Apple Store in Chiang Mai.

    (BTW – the connector for the adapters id a bog standard two pin appliance cord so I walked to the hardware store and bought one for about a buck. Great ad for Apple when people come over and see my rigged device instead of the much vaunted Apple design!)

  18. TooManyPuppies says:

    Most lamestream writers are always wrong when they write about Apple, some are just flat out retarded, undereducated jackasses posing to be a journalist.

    Then there’s Rob Enderle, a fucktarded class all his own. ;-)

  19. Mextli says:

    Apple triggers ‘religious’ reaction in fans’ brains, report says

    according to a BBC documentary series that cites neurological research…..

    http://tinyurl.com/3exa2nz

    Long suspected but difficult to prove due to lack of material to study.

  20. jobs says:

    #18 I don’t believe Apple has any retail stores in Thailand. There is a big reseller called iStudio.

  21. Animby - just phoning it in says:

    #21 – Jobs – They are not directly owned by Apple. They are authorized retailers – and only sell Apple products. Quibble if you wish.

  22. JimD says:

    Mextli #20 – Well, Apple is a CULT, led by St. Jobs, and you join and “contribute” by buying their overpriced digital tailsmans !!! Try not to drink the Kool-Aid or your will fall into the “Reality Distortion Field” !!!

  23. W.T.Effyall says:

    This “fanboy” stuff is great nostalgia for this longtime windows software engineer and macintosh user. It’s as pure 80’s as a Hall & Oates song, or a Members Only jacket.

    The ones with the hottest true-believer passion are the anti-apple zealots.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going out to the parking lot to shake my fist and yell “fanboy!” at all the passing BMW owners.

  24. CrankyGeeksFan says:

    Last year, an Apple Store near me was refurbished. The front displays were removed from either side of the entrance and glass was installed in its place. The front cashiers counter was also removed. (The employees carry iPhones that can process the purchases.) The Genius Bar was extended to the entire length of the rear wall.

    I knew the renovations were complete when I could see through the front glass the customers standing shoulder to shoulder in new rectangular shapes throughout the store. Couldn’t even see what they were looking at until I went in. The rest of the mall was nearly deserted.

    Every retail employee needs to make a field trip to an Apple Store. It doesn’t matter if the retail establishment is in a mall, a stand alone location, or sells food, clothing, auto parts, etc.

    Around 2007 or 2008, a majority of in store customers who purchased a computer over $1500 or $2000 purchased Apple computers.

    I think a majority of Apple’s U.S. employees are in retail.

  25. Alphgeek says:

    Bah so what, the guy didn’t have a crystal ball.

    I still laugh about the days when Dvorak used to talk about “multitasking with multi computers” back in the early ’90s. Running Lotus on one, wordstar on another and compuserve on another…seems like even the greatest can miss the boat sometimes.

  26. TeknoGeeker says:

    It’s funny how many insecure PC “weenies” continue to bash Apple and their products. You would think that if in fact a PC was much easier and more reliable to use, they wouldn’t even respond to articles such as this. They would go their merry way and live in their perfect world. The fact is that they are bitchin’ while replace the bad graphic card, re-installing Windoze’, running a virus scan for several hours, trying for figure out why they can’t connect to the web (again!), trying to understand why the new drivers that Windoze’ loaded on their PC is making the desktop keep crashing, etc. etc.
    The reality is, that most talented IT people think that Macs are great, but still are not ready to be integrated into a work environment. But, they are getting there. You blow-hard hobbyists will continue to bash an excellent product and be reduced to name calling because you’re pissed you pissed away money on a useless box and wish you could afford a brand new shiny Mac. Clean your spectacles and buy a new pocket pencil holder and go back into your pathetic little hole.