“The search for a new retail chief continues at Apple [AAPL], but perhaps the company is simply looking in the wrong direction: it doesn’t need a shopkeeper to run its retail stores, but a brand evangelist,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld.

“Ron Johnson left Apple to lead JC Penney. Johnson’s focus on building the brand’s identity displeased the [JC Penney] board, and he later lost his job,’ Evans writes. “The shop sought a shopkeeper, but Johnson was attempting to transform the shop into a part of life for ordinary Americans. In time his attempt may have succeeded, but JC Penney needed someone who could sell more stuff.”

Evans writes, “Johnson’s successor at Apple retail, ex-Dixons chief, John Browett, was a shopkeeper. His approach was all about shifting boxes and keeping staff costs lean. He fundamentally misunderstood the significance of Apple retail — these stores aren’t just stores; these stores are gathering points for the massed tribes of the Apple experience. In other words, the product that’s really on sale in these places is the social network, the lifestyle, a taste of the entire brand experience.”

Steve Jobs introduces Apple’s first retail store, July 18, 2001:

Much more in the full article here.