Apple opened its first retail stores on May 19, 2001 – one in Virginia and the other in California. In the Steve Jobs biography, author Walter Isaacson wrote how Jobs had wanted Apple to have its own stores so that their iMacs didn’t have to “sit on a shelf between a Dell and a Compaq while an uninformed clerk recited the specs of each”. Despite initial criticisms and comparisons to Gateway’s failed retail stores, Apple Stores not only continue to exist today, but are regarded as one of Apple’s greatest innovations - one that now contributes to more than 10% of Apple’s revenue.
“Unless we could find ways to get our message to customers at the store, we were screwed.”
I’ve previously written about the coverage of Apple’s entertainment services in international markets (including how they compare to Google, Microsoft and Amazon), so I was similarly intrigued by how Apple’s stores have expanded into countries outside the US. Whilst researching all this, I came across other questions such as whether Apple had a particular preference for when they opened new stores and how the expansion of their retail network would affect visitors and profits. What I have found isn’t particularly groundbreaking, but there are certainly some trends and fascinating tidbits that I’ve come across, all of which is detailed below the break.
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Apple Builds Mosaic With Deconstructed iOS Icons for Store Opening
As noted by iPordelante (via ONE37), Apple has built a unique billboard to announce the future opening of a new retail store in Barcelona, Spain, at Passeig de Gràcia. In pure Gaudí style, Apple has actually built a mosaic off pieces of deconstructed iOS app icons, such as Safari, Photos, and iTunes.
A demonstration of Apple’s typical attention to detail, the mosaic for the upcoming Apple Store also shows how the company cares about the particular aspects and unique traits of a retail location, from marketing to gadgets.
The designers’ solution to Genius Bar crowds was to pivot the GB 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. A photo of the new set-up has surfaced showing a tall, 10-foot long wood counter at the rear of a store, with black stools on both sides. The table is set about 15 inches out from the rear wall of the store to allow employees to move from one side to another.
Often referred to as the “heart and soul” of an Apple retail store, the Genius Bar has come a long way since the floating notebooks for support staff and iPod-oriented questions and repairs. As Apple has evolved as a company and revamped its product line over the years, the Genius Bar has consequently changed to accommodate new kind of customers, questions, and, ultimately, devices — on both sides of the Bar. Customers’ details are now entirely managed on iPads, check-ins happen through a dedicated iPad app, and even signatures and machine information are being stored inside custom iPad software made for retail.
Apple is set to open their second retail store in Perth, Australia later this year according to a report by PerthNow. Apple has reportedly begun recruitment for the second store, named in their job advertisement as “South Perth”. PerthNow believes that the store will be located in the suburb of Booragoon, inside the large Garden City shopping centre.
Apple has apparently taken over two of the shops in the centre (Esprit and Sportsgirl) and possibly others that are near Kmart, whilst the centre is also relocating a lift and remodelling stairs nearby. When asked for a comment, the owner of Garden City said that they were currently “remixing the area” but did not specify who the new tenant was. PerthNow believes the store will open sometime in the second half of this year, possibly even July.
(The location of the Apple Store at Porta di Roma. Image via Macity)
As first noted by setteBIT, Apple officially acknowledged the existence of its 10th retail store in Italy, at the Porta di Roma shopping mall. As previously reported, the retail store is rumored to be opening on Saturday, April 21, albeit no official confirmation in regards to the grand opening has been made yet. The “Galleria Porta di Roma” shopping mall, located near the GRA highway of Rome, is open from 9 AM to 10 PM during the weekends, and it includes 220 retail stores. The new store’s dedicated webpage will be available here.
Two weeks ago, a rumor suggested the Porta di Roma Apple retail store would open on April 21st; on the same day every year, the city of Rome commemorates its founding in 753 BC, The celebration is known as “Natale di Roma” (Birthday of Rome), and such date would certainly provide an opportunity for Apple to play around the marketing tagline of the store opening.
Apple’s first retail store in Italy opened in April 2007 at Roma Est, another shopping mall located outside Rome. The new Apple store at Porta di Roma will be the company no. 365 worldwide, Italy’s 10th, and the 118th to open outside the United States.
Apple is beginning to prepare its London retail stores for an onslaught of international visitors and journalists when the city hosts the 2012 Olympics in a few months time. TUAW learnt from a “high level Apple retail employee” in London that the stores will be stocking international replacement MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and MacBook keyboards. It’ll allow the retail stores to quickly repair any damaged laptops with the correct international keyboard, particularly for journalists from overseas, where time is of the essence. Traditionally such replacement keyboards for a non-UK MacBook would have to be ordered in.
As my source told me, “London is going to be overrun by an onslaught of journalists when the games begin. We want to be prepared should they need help with their equipment during the time they are here.”
As TUAW notes, the Olympics will bring in about 325,000 extra visitors to London during the event, as well as over 10,000 print journalists as well as photographers, TV and radio reporters. The source also noted that Apple may potentially also stock new MacBooks that feature American, Asian and other international keyboards – but this is apparently only under consideration at this point.
(The location of the Apple Store at Porta di Roma. Image via Macity)
According to iSpazio [Google Translation], Apple will open its second retail store in Rome, Italy, on Saturday, April 21. Currently, Apple only has one retail store in Rome. The new one, located at the Porta di Roma shopping mall, should open on the same day Rome celebrates its birthday, commemorating the city’s founding in 753 BC. iSpazio managed to take some exclusive shots of the progress being made with the store’s construction, supposedly showing the usual layout of retail stores located inside Italian malls. iSpazio says the opening date has been confirmed by an “inside source”.
Italian website Macity reported back in January that Apple had started working on the new store, sharing photos of the old Co.Import location under construction. Opening in between Benetton and Bershka retail stores (Benetton is an Italian fashion firm, Bershka is a retailer part of the Spanish Inditex group), the Apple Store will be located on the same floor of heavily trafficked H&M and Media World. The Porta di Roma shopping mall, easily reachable by bus or by car from the GRA, has long been rumored to be a favorite location for Apple to open a retail store, albeit speculation has also suggested the company would like to have a third retail store in downtown Rome.
Recently, Apple has also been rumored to be considering making its new retail store in Turin its “most important” Italian one. Apple was also on the verge of launching a new flagship store in Milan, but the company didn’t manage to get permissions from the city. Currently, Apple has 9 retail stores in Italy.
On Saturday, Apple officially opened its first retail store in Amsterdam. Located at Hirschgebouw, Leidseplein 25, the first store in the city blends historical architectural elements with Apple’s unique style and approach to retail presentation. Gary Allen of ifoAppleStore has a great recount of the opening day:
In typical Apple fashion, construction of the interior was a labor of love, taken from history. Everything is a recreation, although it is impossible to tell even from a close examination. The employees are still in awe of the store, since they had their first view of the interior just nine days ago. Steve Jobs signed off on the project before the project before he died last year, and Apple has taken great care within the company to credit the artisans, craftsman and construction team who created the store.
The superlatives are many: most number of Apple products on display of any store in the chain, second-largest store in square-footage, and largest volume of any store in the chain. But those are just numbers, when a store should really be judged by its appearance.
Whilst you’ll be able to find more information about the store on Apple’s dedicated retail webpage, we wanted to share a series of photos our friend Jack Amick took last Saturday and sent us. You can find them after the break. Also make sure to check out Jack’s Flickr photostream for some full-size shots, and a video.
Update: We’ve posted a full-size version of the photo showing Senior Director of International Retail Steve Cano at the Amsterdam Apple Store.
According to a report by Italian website Macity [Google Translation], Apple’s upcoming retail store in Via Roma, Turin, will become Italy’s “most important” one as it debuts later this year, with an opening date apparently set for September 2012. Citing “sources with access to information about the new store”, Macity claims the store in Via Roma will cover an approximate area of 1000 square meters (10763 square feet, possibly including warehouse and back of the store) on two floors. Previously owned by Mondadori, the empty store is now being completely emptied so to let Apple rebuild it to fit the store’s style, which will be “different” from the current retail stores in Italy (9 out of 10 are located in shopping malls, with the exception of Via Rizzoli). Last, according to Macity, once open, the new store will be as “prestigious” as other Apple retail stores in Europe, specifically in France and the United Kingdom.
Apple was long rumored to be on the verge of launching a new flagship store in Milan, although the company didn’t manage to get permissions from the city, losing an auction for the Galleria space to fashion firm Prada. The new store in Via Roma will join Apple’s other store in Turin, at Le Gru. [via GGD Milano]