Apple Store“Retail is supposed to be hard. Apple has made it seem ridiculously easy,” Randall Stross reports for The New York Times. “And yet it must be harder than it appears, or why hasn’t the Windows side of the personal computer business figured it out?””

“Of the many predictions in the world of technology that have turned out to be spectacularly wrong, a prominent place should be made for what the pundits said in 2001 when Apple opened its first retail store in Tysons Corner, Va. ‘It’s completely flawed,’ one analyst said, and that was the conventional wisdom. Commercial rent and furnishings would be expensive, inventory tricky and margins slim. Experienced computer resellers were struggling, and no computer manufacturer had ever found success operating its own branded stores. Analysts predicted at the time that Apple would shut down the stores and write off the huge losses in two years,” Stross reports.

“That assuredly would have been the Apple store’s fate had Steve Jobs permitted aesthetic and design considerations to trump all else. But while guiding the planning for the stores in 2000 and 2001, Mr. Jobs took on a more ambitious challenge than building freestanding museums of design that would show the Apple flag and do little else. He set out to create the conditions most likely to convert museum visitors into actual customers, and then to make those customers feel that they were being pampered long after the sale was consummated,” Stross reports.

“Customer response is told in the numbers. Last month, Apple released results for the quarter ended March 31. More than 21.5 million people visited its stores, which now number more than 180. Store sales were $855 million, up 34 percent from the quarter a year earlier, and they contributed more than $200 million in profits,” Stross reports.

Full article, which contrasts Apple’s success with Sony’s and other’s retail failures, here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Jeff H.,” “LinuxGuy and Mac Prodigal Son,” “RadDoc,” and “James,” for the heads up.]