Ron Johnson: Apple Retail Stores ‘are a victim of their own success’

“Working in the favor of Apple’s new retail store chief Deirdre O’Brien are 500-plus physical shrines to Apple products around the world that are usually jam packed,” Brian Sozzi reports for Yahoo Finance. “But make no mistake, O’Brien’s core tasks — taking Apple retail stores to the next level in terms of customer service and overall count — [are] nothing to scoff at. And the creator of the Apple store, Ron Johnson, is well aware of that, even though he is now watching his former employer from afar.”

“‘Apple has the premier retail experience — under Angela [Ahrendts] they made significant improvements, but they also have significant challenges,’ Johnson told Yahoo Finance. ‘In a way, they are sort of a victim of their own success. The stores are so popular, the real challenge is handling the amount of traffic coming through,'” Sozzi reports. “”

“Ahrendts’s tenure is viewed as largely a success by most Apple watchers. But that doesn’t mean Ahrendts hands a well-oiled machine devoid of issues off to O’Brien. In some spheres, it’s talked about that Apple should double its store count to relieve store congestion,” Sozzi reports. “O’Brien is a 30 year veteran of Apple — she was on the front line with Johnson when the first crop of Apple stores opened in the early 2000s. ‘Deirdre is an excellent operator — she helped launch Apple stores in 2000, she was in stores every day,’ Johnson recalled. ‘She will be really equipped to take the stores to the next level.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Many more stores, and with better acoustics, please!

Two things additional things about Apple Retail Stores: One, a constant since inception, is that the stores are overly acoustically “bright” making them extremely loud. Hard floors, glass, hard ceilings; it can get deafening. In smaller stores, this makes hearing instructors’ classes, or even staff members more difficult than it should be. Some acoustical design (sound deadening) would go a long, long way to making the stores more comfortable overall. Secondly, the stores are increasingly more crowded – a nice problem to have – which is obviously recognized as an issue as we see Apple expanding stores pretty much wherever they can. (Just don’t forget the acoustics! Quieter stores will seem less crowded, even if they actually aren’t.)MacDailyNews, August 16, 2018

Apple’s new retail head needs to fix the biggest problem with Apple Retail Stores – February 8, 2019
What’s next for Apple’s Retail Store empire? – February 8, 2019
New Apple retail chief Deirdre O’Brien receives stock grant worth up to $8.2 million – February 8, 2019
Angela Ahrendts’ Apple departure points to wider mystery – February 6, 2019
Examining Angela Ahrendts’ five-year tenure as head of Apple Retail – February 6, 2019
Apple CEO Cook thanks Angela Ahrendts in company-wide memo to employees – February 6, 2019
Apple names third retail chief in seven years – February 6, 2019
Apple’s Angela Ahrendts to depart in April; Deirdre O’Brien named senior vice president of Retail + People – February 5, 2019
Apple’s Angela Ahrendts has a plan for next-gen retail – January 29, 2019
Why Angela Ahrendts left Burberry for Apple – June 20, 2018
Ralph Lauren to add Apple’s Angela Ahrendts to Board of Directors – May 9, 2018
Angela Ahrendts is again Apple’s best-paid employee – December 29, 2017
Apple now requires CEO Tim Cook to fly only on private jets – December 28, 2017
Apple CEO Tim Cook paid close to $102 million for fiscal 2017 – December 28, 2017
Forbes’ World’s 100 Most Powerful Women: Angela Ahrendts #13, Laurene Powell Jobs #14 – November 2, 2017
Deirdre O’Brien named Apple’s vice president of People – July 21, 2017
Tim Cook took home $10.3 million, Angela Ahrendts earned $25.7 million in 2015 – January 6, 2016
Apple’s Angela Ahrendts emerges as highest-paid U.S. woman with $83 million – May 5, 2015
Apple’s retail chief Angela Ahrendts paid $73.4 million in cash and stock last year; BoD member Drexler steps down – January 22, 2015
Apple’s new retail chief Ahrendts granted $68 million in restricted stock – May 6, 2014


  1. My last Apple store experience was the worst shopping experience I ever had.

    No accessories had pricing. Had to find help and wait to get pricing.

    No Apple products had signage. Had to wait in line to turn on product just to find out which it was.

    MISERABLE EXPERIENCE. I was so pissed I sent Cook and email which he promptly ignored.

  2. The only store I’ve ever been to that outdoes Apple Stores is Abt Electronics, in Glenview IL, and on the web. Abt sets the standard for customer service, and they are still owned by the Abt family. The third generation runs things just like their dad, and the fourth generation is slowly but surely coming into its own. It is such an amazing operation that we’ll take out-of-town visitors there for an afternoon just to show off a store like they’ve never seen before. And yes, Abt is an Authorized Dealer for all things Apple.

  3. My experience in the often packed to the gills Naperville store is that they are polite, and have an efficient system to triage customers and get it what we need and out of the store in a reasonable period of time. The crowds are daunting to look at but most seem to be ok with the experience.

  4. Many of the Apple Stores were developed with best estimates of customer demands, leaving a lot of stores much smaller than customer traffic indicates they should be. I go to the Apple store in Tulsa and normally see a lack of traffic – significant traffic. The MS store a short ways down the aisle

  5. Sorry for the problem . .

    The MS store a short ways down the aisle is generally pretty empty – the two companies could easily swap locations and both would increase their net profits.

    Another potential for Apple is to establish second stores, for picking up deliveries. Your order does there if you want to avoid the heavier traffic and porch pirates. Also staff that can act as a second store staff. Criteria includes more space, but less expensive space. These days there are retailers who have gone out of business and have left a 3,000 sq ft (or larger) store empty. Those stores would be cheap to lease and they would have far more convenient parking & curb side pick up.

    Some malls are fun serious trouble and would be ready to make major concessions for a Second Apple Store. In Tulsa the Promenade is a classic example. They have lost a lot of major retailers (like The Gap), are in a great location and have a lot of empty store space. Apple can handle 5,000+ sq ft with ease.

  6. It’s tough to generalize. I’ve only seen a dozen or so of the 500 stores. Some are more crowded than others.

    I’d like to see them add support for more expert users. The training I’ve attended there has always been pretty basic. Even if it was scheduled once a month or so it would be great to have an expert come in who could answer questions about iBooks Author, Final Cut, Keynote, Xcode, AppleScript, etc. (not always the same guy, of course 🙂)

  7. it’s not the Ahrendts was so terrible but when you pay someone 170 million (Her sign up bonus was something like 60 million. i don’t expect ‘competence’, i expect GENIUS. She might be good in fashion but genius in selling TECH she wasn’t.

  8. Try going to the Ann Arbor Michigan Apple store. Truly a loathsome experience. It is THE smallest Apple store in the world. They could triple the size of it and it would still not be able to keep up with demand.

    Just close it down Cook. End the misery. Clearly you can’t improve the situation.

  9. Once I brought a malfunctioning iPhone 5S in to an Apple store. The rep recommended repair, which she seemed to indicate involved leaving my iPhone with them and getting a discounted new one of the same model.

    I didn’t get it. And she didn’t get why I didn’t get it.
    When I finally understood the source of confusion, I tried to explain gently that since they were not actually going to fix my phone and give it back — like when you get your car “repaired” — she was recommending a replacement not a repair. She got flustered and another rep completed the transaction.

    That’s when I Iearned that such a replacement really is recorded as a kind of repair there. Boggles the mind.

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