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. jobs says:

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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” !!!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.