Apple CEO Steve Jobs helps Disney to dramatically re-imagine retail stores

“The Walt Disney Company, with the help of Steven P. Jobs and his retailing team at Apple, intends to drastically overhaul its approach to the shopping mall,” Brooks Barnes reports for The New York Times. “At a time when many retailers are still cutting back or approaching strategic shifts with extreme caution, Disney is going the other way, getting more aggressive and putting into motion an expensive and ambitious floor-to-ceiling reboot of its 340 stores in the United States and Europe — as well as opening new ones, including a potential flagship in Times Square.”

“Disney Stores, which the media giant is considering rebranding Imagination Park, will become more akin to cozy entertainment hubs. The chain’s traditional approach of displaying row after row of toys and apparel geared to Disney franchises will be given a high-tech makeover and incorporated into a new array of recreational activities,” Barnes reports. “The goal is to make children clamor to visit the stores and stay longer, perhaps bolstering sales as a result. Over the next five years, analysts estimate that Disney will spend about $1 million a store to redecorate, reorganize and install interactive technology.”

Barnes reports, “The involvement of Mr. Jobs, the Apple chief executive who joined the Disney board with the 2006 acquisition of Pixar, is particularly notable. For the first time, Mr. Jobs’s fingerprints can be seen on Disney strategy, in the same way that he influenced the look and feel of Apple’s own immensely popular retail chain. While Mr. Jobs did not personally toil on the Imagination Park concept, he pushed Disney to move far past a refurbishment. ‘Dream bigger — that was Steve’s message,’ said Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products.”

“Mr. Jobs provided access to proprietary information about the development and operation of Apple’s highly successful stores, and Disney executives visited Apple’s research operation in Cupertino, Calif. Mr. Jobs, who declined to comment, also insisted that Disney build a prototype store to work out kinks, a costly endeavor that most retailers skip,” Barnes reports. “The company followed his advice, working for the last year on a full-scale, fully stocked store inside an unmarked warehouse in Glendale, Calif. The prototype was crucial to shaping an overall philosophy, Mr. Fielding said, noting that he discovered the shops needed more ‘Pixar-esque winks and nods.’ To that end, one sales area is now labeled ‘WWTD: What Would Tinker Bell Do?'”

Barnes reports, “Disney will adopt Apple touches like mobile checkout (employees will carry miniature receipt printers in their aprons) and the emphasis on community (Disney’s theater idea is an extension of Apple’s lecture spaces). The focus on interactivity — parents will be able to book a Disney Cruise on touch-screen kiosks while their children play — reflects an Apple hallmark. Employees can use iPhones to control those high-tech trees.”

Much more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Citymark” for the heads up.]


  1. @ bioness

    Steve Jobs is the largest single share holder of Disney Stock in the world. To put it another way, Jobs basically owns Disney.

    And, it’s fair to say you got it backwards, Jobs & Apple is inspiring Disney to think different and to run the Disney Business different and even to take greater risks and to move into the modern age and recapture the imagination of a whole new era and generation of Kids.

  2. And he became the single largest shareholder of Disney when Disney kicked Michael Eisner’s sorry a$$ out and installed Bob Iger as the CEO. Eisner was determined to break it off with Pixar (Steve Jobs’s baby), following a game of one-upmanship with Jobs (and nobody ever won against Jobs, which Eisner was too stubborn to realise). First order of business under Iger was to fix the relationship with Pixar and acquire the company, and part of the deal was a massive chunk of Disney stock for Jobs.

  3. At the meeting:

    Steve Jobs: And along THIS wall, we’ll have our newest iPod and iPod touch models playing Pixar movies.

    Michael Eisner: Uh… “Pixar” is no longer its own studio. And iPods aren’t a Disney product.

    Steve Jobs: Who the heck let you in here?!? Well no matter, there’s an app for that!


    Michael Eisner: OH GOD MY EYES!!!!

  4. Steve Jobs is our generation’s Walt Disney.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Jobs is actually bipolar — the brilliant madness. It’s not a bad thing at all, it just is a reflection of his penchant for details and his high energy levels and overall moodiness. Many great minds were and are bipolar.

  5. Also… I don’t know that Disney’s theater idea could be considered an extension of Apple’s lecture spaces… seeing as how most Apple stores have undergone renovations that have eliminated those areas… at least at those in my area.

    And, speaking of those Apple store renovations, as business person I understand why they’ve made them… but as an Apple consumer I have to say I am not really pleased with most of them.

    Particularly with how software is now displayed… I’m 6′ 1″ and it’s a stretch to reach some shelves. The highest I can’t reach at all. WTH!

    How purchases are rung up since they got rid of registers doesn’t thrill me either. Having more people running around with those little wireless “registers” has not exactly sped things up in my estimation. The last time I bought something was not what I’d call a lightening transaction. In the old days, standing in line at a register was faster.

  6. @drackmere

    Sure, why not?? Here are a few of the behaviors that I see:
    1) He has grandiose views of himself and his company (well, Apple is the best, isn’t it?)
    2) There have been many reports from former employees on his moodiness
    3) He takes very large risks in his business — although he has succeeded in many of those risks (and has had some huge failures too — like the Lisa)
    4) He seems to have boundless energy
    5) He has to personally direct many of the new projects that come to production at Apple, to a point of micromanaging design and interface
    6) and so on…

    He is like a collage of Howard Hughes, Walt Disney, Winston Churchill, Van Gogh, Beethoven, and Ted Turner (all of whom were either suspected or diagnosed as being bipolar).

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