Standard Article on Apple Retail

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Date: Monday, February 1st, 1999, 00:00
Category: Archive

The Industry Standard‘s Jen Muehlbauer wrote a great piece on the recently announced Apple Store in MacLean, VA for the Media Grok newsletter – Would You Like an iMac With That Cinnabon?

Visitors to the Apple stores may not so much “Shop Different” as “Browse Different.” Observers suspect the Apple stores won’t have much inventory, just displays and demos. Apple wants to show customers how its new products, such as digital video cameras and CD writeable drives, “fit into the digital lifestyle,” said the San Jose Mercury News. Apple has already worked with retailers such as CompUSA to create in-store areas where customers can play with Apple stuff, said the Merc.

The retail plan, as one analyst told the New York Times, may have been “the worst-kept secret in the world.” Steve Jobs complained about the hassles of computer buying at MacWorld in January, said the Washington Post. Jobs hired one of the main architects of Sony’s branded store in San Francisco, observed the Financial Times. The Wall Street Journal added that Apple has been hiring “retail-savvy executives” from Target and Gap, and has been wooing Gateway employees. The Merc reported in November that Apple has been “quietly” planning a store in Palo Alto. Add it all up and the super-secret Steve Jobs mystique fades a little.

Pitching gear to mall rats may help Apple pick up new customers, but not everyone is happy with the plan. said the stores have already “raised the ire of Mac dealers,” since Apple hasn’t discussed the plan with its resellers. Apple also may have wounded some regional egos. “Some expressed surprise that the California-based company would open its first store on the East Coast rather than closer to its roots in the West,” said the Washington Post. Finally, how sane is a big retail-store rollout when Gateway just shut 38 stores last month?

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