Apple VP Johnson says Apple’s ‘hands-on science museum’ retail stores successful

“It surely wasn’t the first time someone called Steve Jobs crazy. Three years ago, the chief executive officer of Apple Computer stood in front of investment analysts and journalists to unveil Apple’s well-kept secret: it was jumping into the retail store business,” Timothy C. Barman writes for The Providence Journal.

“The timing raised eyebrows. Internet and other technology companies were doing poorly. The Nasdaq Composite Index had dropped 55 percent from its peak in 2000. Sales of personal computers were declining. And the only other computer maker with retail stores — Gateway — was imploding. ‘The whole group had one reaction,’ said Apple executive Ron Johnson. ‘Are you serious? Steve’s a pretty persuasive guy,’ Johnson said, ‘but I don’t think he convinced one person in that room,'” Barman writes.

“Johnson came to Apple at Jobs’ urging after a stint at retail giant Target. Johnson headed that company’s retail strategy and is credited with bringing stylishly designed, high-end products, such as the Michael Graves teapot, to the store at prices the average shopper could afford. He said he told Jobs that he didn’t want to create just another computer shop. Johnson’s challenge was to come up with something different,” Barman writes. “What he came up with was indeed unique. Unlike most retail outlets, Apple stores are sparse, open and have a feeling that’s more like a hands-on exhibit at a science museum. Only 25 percent of a store’s floor space is devoted to products, he said, such as the company’s popular iPod music player. Products are stocked, but they are kept in the back, out of view.”

“‘We wanted an atmosphere that was inviting, not intimidating, forward-looking, warm, interactive,’ he said. ‘And it makes you feel intelligent just by being there,'” Barman writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “It surely wasn’t the first time someone called Steve Jobs crazy.” Nor will it be the last.



  1. I wonder when Steve stars shopping around again.
    There is Digidesign and Adobe.
    That would be nice. Apple Photoshop. If I remember right Apple already owns a part of Adobe.
    Steve has to do something to AppleWorks too.
    Maybe some small company that makes project management tools too.

  2. Apple stores do well because in some cases they are the only decent retailer for Apple products. They are vital. Initial reaction to this from the analysts just confirms how dumb they are.

    Most of the big box stores have crappy presentation and display setup. Future Shop (CDN Best Buy) keeps iPods locked up with a battery-depleted floor model.

    The iMac and occasion eMac or iBook are always dusty and poorly kept. Depite the fact that at the particular store that I am thinking of, some of the PC sales dudes are Mac users.

    I am eagerly awaiting an Apple store in my area.

  3. We contribute ’til it hurts…then we stop.

    We can’t hurt ourselves, it’s suicide. Apple
    will never be a McDonald’s chain or a Hope diamond…it’s
    been done.


  4. Apple could be that Thanksgiving Day turkey that’s the
    centerpiece of the bounty of what this country started
    out as…there’s only one and it feeds a good sized family
    and autumn is the season when it tastes best.

    I will remember Apple for what it was and appreciate it as it grows old. Apple thought different & followed through on it’s thoughts that contributed greatly to this modern culture.


  5. to Mac User 47… “I think it would be great if Apple bought BMW. Then I wouldn’t have to hear anymore Apples to BMW’s comparisons.”
    Well, unfortunately at this time M$ is providing a big portion of DB and software needs of BMW… though this will be until a few more crashes happen I doubt that BMW would go with Apple.. . They have enough programmer and S/W engineers to produce their own system with other free UNIX boxes… sort of like

  6. A few months ago during a SF Bay Area visit my wife and I walked into the Palo Alto Apple store while someone was giving an iPhoto tutorial. It took me by surprise when she said she wanted to watch and listen while I looked at hardware. Her showing interest in anything related to computers is rare, but lately when I’ve showed her stuff on my iBook she’s starting to see the possibility of it actually being fun trying something else besides Yahoo! Mail and web browsing… once she gets a Mac. Oh, and she likes iTunes on her PC and just today discovered the radio tuner. Everything else on Windows has a taboo of intimidation and I’m not much help since I feel like a klutz using it.

  7. It’s just always such a rewarding experience going into an Apple store, as opposed to a CompUSA or Frys, where you’re more likely to get “deerin-headlight” stares from the teenaged employees than someone who actually knows something about the machines on display. And things actually WORK, and I can play with them at the Apple Store. Don’t know how many times I’ve gone to any other electronics store and they have 15 gazillion things on display and not one of them has a working battery or is properly plugged in. Not so at the Apple Store!

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