What it is: Apple senior vice president of retail, Angela Ahrendts, wants to make Apple Stores a place for people to meet.
Initially, Apple opened its own stores to sell its products because dealers were too busy selling Windows PCs and mostly neglected the Macintosh and any other Apple products. Now that more people use iPhones, iPads, the Macintosh, and various Apple services like Apple Pay and iCloud, the original purpose for Apple Stores no longer applies. Many stores now sell Apple products.
That’s why Apple’s senior vice president of retail, Angela Ahrendts, wants Apple Stores to shift their focus. Instead of just being a place to try and buy Apple products, Angela wants Apple Stores to become a meeting place.
One way to do that is to provide regular free classes of different types to show people what they can do with an Apple product. for example, one class might focus on editing video on a Macintosh. Another class might teach people how to take pictures with an iPhone. The goal is to draw people into lan Apple Store even if they have no intention of buying an Apple product.
Angela wants Apple Stores to be a meeting place like Starbucks. The huge difference is that people can meet at Starbucks to enjoy a drink or food, which they cannot do at an Apple Store. Also Starbucks offers free WiFi, but do Apple Stores do that as well? Starbucks offers plenty of tables and chairs for anyone to sit at. Most Apple Stores do not offer as many seats as a Starbucks.
So Angela’s intention to draw people in with classes makes sense, but hoping people will meet at the Apple Store does not. Without drinks, food, and ample seating, not to mention free WiFi, there’s little reason for anyone to meet others at an Apple Store. Also with mobs of people roaming around, it’s hard to hold a conversation in a quiet conversation in an Apple Store.
Angela’s right in redefining the purpose of the Apple Store. It’s no longer needed to sell Apple products. Now it needs to be something else, but a meeting place probably is not it. People may go to an Apple Store for inspiration on how to use their Apple products, but they likely won’t just hang around afterwards.
Many people use Starbucks like another office where they can relax in peace and quietly meet others to chat. An Apple Store will never be a Starbucks because it’s not as conducive to hanging out and working on your laptop at a table.
If Angela really wants to make Apple Stores a place to meet, they at least need to offer seats and tables for people to work at. Until then, the Apple Store will continue being a place to sell Apple products, learn about using Apple products, and get Apple products fixed and troubleshooted. But a meeting place? Probably not.