Apple names third retail chief in seven years

“Apple Inc. named its third retail chief in seven years, seeking to shake up store operations while casting about for the next big hit as the iPhone era wanes,” Mark Gurman reports for Bloomberg. “On Tuesday, Apple said company veteran Deirdre O’Brien will replace Angela Ahrendts, who served in the role for about five years. O’Brien is the first insider tapped to run the Apple division since Ron Johnson opened the first Apple store in 2001 and left a decade later.”

“The departure of Ahrendts, Apple’s top female executive, was a surprise. But it also marks a turning point for the company and its approach to retail,” Gurman reports. “Sales of the iPhone — Apple’s biggest product line — peaked last year, putting more pressure on Cook to find new revenue streams while experimenting with promotional pricing tactics that Ahrendts eschewed… For the first time, the retail chief will also have other priorities because O’Brien will continue to lead human resources.”

“About month before Ahrendts’ departure was announced, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook warned the company would miss its holiday sales target for the first time since 2001,” Gurman reports. “Ahrendts was credited with modernizing Apple’s store designs, integrating the online operation and developing extensive workshops that kept customers coming back to the retail locations. But some consumers in recent years have complained about long wait times to purchase products and get appointments with technicians… ‘Her focus was integrating the online and offline experience, which in some ways took the focus away from an excellent in-store experience,’ said Gene Munster, managing partner at Loup Ventures. ‘The brick-and-mortar store still has friction around the consumer experience, and Apple is committed to making it better.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It should not be difficult to find the Apple Store on Apple’s home page. It’s more difficult today to find it than when Ahrendts arrived. “Store” should be returned as one of the main tabs atop all pages of And, Apple Stores should once again be called “stores” because, duh, that’s what they are.

At Apple Stores in recent years, we’ve felt a bit like cattle being herded through gates by overworked hired hands wearing strained smiles. Hopefully, that will now end.

Finally, please lose those awful, hard-ass wooden boxes that are strewn about Apple Stores. They are awful.

Apple’s Angela Ahrendts to depart in April; Deirdre O’Brien named senior vice president of Retail + People – February 5, 2019


  1. Remember how the head of diversity suggested that you could have diversity of thought in a room full of white men and they fired her? I wonder if Angela accidentally said something equally rational?

    1. “personal reasons” often translates to ‘fired’.

      She was severely overpaid and glad she’s leaving. She seemed very bright, but the reality is she turned the best retail experience ever into the DMV and basically added nothing but logistical complication. The threat of her possibly becoming CEO has me breathing a sigh of relief as she was not a good fit.

      The new head of people and retail seems like an AWFUL idea as she is basically head of HR, and now magically a master of retail?

      What would be great is if Deidre is temporary and they convince Ron Johnson to come back. He was great at this role. Apple would be lucky to get him back.

      Ron created apple retail with Steve. When everyone said it would never work. He made something everyone said would fail into the highest $ per square foot retail ever.

      As for the logistics Angela ‘added’ to the apple stores, it’s basically the DMV now. Go to a store today. You’re a pinball. She added logistical complication and ruined and poisoned the retail experience. Before, you’d go to the genius bar and deal with your issues.

      Now you show up, you try to find where to check in, there is no genius bar. You ask one employee, they say, um no, im not the check in person, go over there, thats where the check in person is. You go over there and say I’d like to check in. Oh I’m not the check in person, but they are right there. Then you check in and they send you to table X,Y over there. Some people go to the wrong table. The geniuses come looking for where you should be, but the person is in the wrong spot, and now the genius goes to 2 or 3 tables finding the right person. In the mean time, people who have problems are interspersed throughout the store with their poison “my iDevice doesnt work” griping, poisoning the buying experience around others.

      Before, you just went to the bar, you and your problems were isolated and didnt poison others’ purchasing experience, and you didnt pinball through the miserable DMV experience. I used to love just stopping by at apple stores when Ron was in charge. I cringe if I have to go there now. So that’s how it’s the DMV.

  2. I have always had a positive experience at any Apple Store I have visited. I always marvel at how many Apple employees the stores have especially compared to other stores in the various malls.

  3. Did anything much happen at Apple Stores in general during Angela’s tenure? She was much ado about nothing seems to me. (If anything taking away rather than adding to the Apple Store experience.)

  4. Here is an idea. Maybe it is time Apple actually create a real sales force focused on selling to corporate America. Apple sells to corporations through its retail stores. That is stunning. Apple does not have an outward focused sales force directed at selling computers and phones and tablets to the largest enterprises. Sales people who actually go out and ask for business. It is stunning that Apple gets the business it does from the enterprise without an organized corporate sales organization. Honestly it’s almost criminal negligence. Apple could take most of the desktop and laptop and phone market and position for faster adoption of Apple Pay and all the services if it would simply create an enterprise sales team.

    There is no other company that expects corporations to come walking in to their consumer stores to get sold. Apple – the time has come. Create a sales team. This team besides increasing sales in a huge way would also get feedback from big customers that would help – like upgrade your systems annually with new chips and memory. Do it now.

      1. Do you have any idea what market share Apple has in enterprise computers, tablets, etc? Why do they seem satisfied with about 12% of the desktop and laptop market? Not a very good idea for a company that just took a 33% cut in market value because it had to restate its earnings estimate. Not having a sales department is in fact just plain stupid.

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