Apple Store

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This article is about the retail chain. For Apple's online store, see Apple Store (online). For the store in London founded by The Beatles, see Apple Boutique. For other uses, see Apple Store (disambiguation).
Apple Store
Founded May 19, 2001; 15 years ago (2001-05-19)
Tysons Corner Center
Fairfax County, Virginia, U.S.
Founder Ron Johnson
Number of locations
World: 490 stores in 20 countries[1]
(269 US/221 elsewhere)
United States: 269
China: 40
United Kingdom: 39
Canada: 29
Australia: 22
France: 21
Italy: 16
Germany: 14
Spain: 11
Japan: 8
Hong Kong: 6
Switzerland: 4
Netherlands: 3
Sweden: 3
Brazil: 2
Turkey: 2
United Arab Emirates: 2
Belgium: 1
Macau: 1
Mexico: 1
Key people
Parent Apple Inc.

Apple Store is a chain of retail stores owned and operated by Apple Inc. The stores sell Mac personal computers, iPhone smartphones, iPad tablet computers, iPod portable media players, Apple Watch smartwatches, Apple TV digital media players, software, and select third-party accessories.

The first Apple Stores were originally opened as two locations in May 2001 by then-CEO Steve Jobs, after years of attempting but failing store-within-a-store concepts. Seeing a need for improved retail presentation of the company's products, he began an effort in 1997 to revamp the retail program to get an improved relationship to consumers, and hired Ron Johnson in 2000. Relaunching Apple's online store in 1997, opening the first two physical stores in 2001, and the announcements of new hardware products saw immediate success and significant momentum for the Apple brand. Over the years, Apple has expanded the number of locations, with almost 500 stores worldwide as of April 2017, and strong product sales have placed Apple among the top-tier retail stores, with sales over $16 billion globally in 2011.

In May 2016, Angela Ahrendts, Apple's current Senior Vice President of Retail, unveiled a significantly redesigned Apple Store in Union Square, San Francisco, featuring large glass doors for the entry, open spaces, and rebranded rooms. In addition to purchasing products, consumers can get advice and help from "Creative Pros" - individuals with specialized knowledge of creative arts; get product support in a tree-lined Genius Grove; and attend sessions, conferences and community events, with Ahrendts commenting that the goal is to make Apple Stores into "town squares", a place where people naturally meet up and spend time. The new design will be applied to all Apple Stores worldwide, a process that has seen stores temporarily relocate or close.


Apple's flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York City.

Many Apple Stores are located inside shopping malls, but Apple has built several stand-alone "flagship" stores in high-profile locations.[2] Several multi-level stores feature glass staircases,[3][4][5] and some also glass bridges.[6] The New York Times wrote in 2011 that these features were part of then-CEO Steve Jobs' extensive attention to detail,[7] and Apple received a design patent in 2002 for its glass staircase design.[8][9][10] Development of the staircases included structural engineering firm Eckersley O’Callaghan Structural Design, and architectural firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.[6]

Apple has received numerous architectural awards for its store designs,[11][12] and its "iconic" glass cube, designed in part by Peter Bohlin,[13][14] at Apple's Fifth Avenue store in New York City, received a separate design patent in 2014.[15][16][17]

The Apple Store in Regent Street, London was the first to open in Europe, in November 2004.[18][19] In August 2009, London Evening Standard reported that the store was the most profitable shop of its size in London, with the highest sales per square foot, taking in £60 million a year, or £2,000 per square foot.[20] The Regent Street store was surpassed in size by the nearby Apple Store in Covent Garden, which was surpassed in size by the Grand Central Terminal Apple Store, New York City, in December 2011.

On May 19, 2006, an Apple Store was opened in New York’s Fifth Avenue. It features a distinctive 32-foot glass cube, and is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.[21]

Ron Johnson, Senior Vice President of Retail Operations until November 1, 2011. Following his departure, it was reported that while Johnson was responsible for site selection, in-store service, and store layout, inventory was controlled by then-COO and now CEO Tim Cook, who has a background in supply chain management.[22] After 2011, Apple transferred retail leadership to first John Browett, who was rapidly removed after unpopular attempts to cut costs, followed by Burberry executive Angela Ahrendts.[23][24]

The Apple Store at the Zorlu Center in Istanbul has a 'glass lantern' which won the 2014 IStructE Structural Awards Supreme Award for structural engineering
A spiral staircase inside the Apple Store in Boston

Of the 43,000 Apple employees in the United States 30,000 work at Apple Stores. Due to the popularity of the brand applicants for jobs at Apple Stores are numerous with many young workers applying; pay is modest but generous benefits are offered. The pace of work is high due to the popularity of the iPhone and iPad. Employees typically work for only a few years as career prospects are limited with no path of advancement other than limited retail management slots.[25] Apple Store employees make above average pay for retail employees and are offered money toward college as well as gym memberships, 401k plans, healthcare plans, product discounts, and reduced price on purchase of stock. The retention rate for the technicians who man the Genius Bar is over 90%.[26]


Third-party retail[edit]

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, returned as interim CEO in 1997. According to Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson, Jobs began a concerted campaign to help sales by improving the retail presentation of Macintosh computers. Even with new products launched under Jobs' watch, like the iMac and the PowerBook G3 and an online store, Apple still relied heavily on big box computer and electronics stores for most of their sales. There, customers continued to deal with poorly trained and ill-maintained Mac sections that did not foster customer loyalty to Apple and did not help differentiate the Mac user-experience from Windows.[27][28] In fact, the retailer trend was towards selling their own generic in-house brand PCs which used even cheaper components than those by major PC makers, increasing retailer overall margins by keeping the manufacturing profits. This "provided a powerful profit motive to convert customers interested in buying a Mac into the owners of a new, cheaply assembled, house brand PC".[29]

Tim Cook, who joined Apple in 1998 as Senior Vice President for Worldwide Operations, announced the company would "cut some channel partners that may not be providing the buying experience [Apple expects]. We're not happy with everybody." Jobs severed Apple's ties of every big box retailer, including Sears, Best Buy, Circuit City, Computer City and Office Max to focus its retail efforts with CompUSA. Between 1997 and 2000, the number of Mac authorized resellers dropped from 20,000 to just 11,000. The majority of these were cuts made by Apple itself. Jobs proclaimed that Apple would be targeting Dell, with Cook's mandate to match or exceed Dell's lean inventories and streamlined supply chain, "with our new products and our new store and our new build-to-order, we're coming after you, buddy." While Dell had operated as a direct mail order and online order company, having pulled out of retailers to realize greater profit margins and efficiency, Apple had direct orders with sales handled by its channel partners, other mail order resellers, independent dealerships, and the new relationship with CompUSA to build "stores within a store".[29]

Jobs did a study for stand alone "store within a store" for 34 sites in Japan. These sites were designed by Eight Inc. who was designing the Apple MacWorld and product launch events with Apple. CompUSA was one of the few retailers that kept its Apple contract by agreeing to adopt Apple's "store within a store" concept designed by Eight Inc. This required that approximately 15% of each CompUSA store would be set aside for Mac hardware and software (including non-Apple products) and would play host to a part-time Apple salesperson. However the "store within a store" approach did not meet expectations, in part because the Apple section was in the lowest-traffic area of CompUSA stores. CompUSA president Jim Halpin, who proclaimed that he would make Apple products his top priority, was forced to resign a year later. Also CompUSA had trouble finding well-trained staff, as most store clerks usually steered customers away from Macs and towards Windows PCs. Despite these setbacks, CompUSA sales of Macs had increased. Apple then added Best Buy as a second authorized reseller.[30] Challenges still remained, as resellers' profit margins on selling Macs was only around 9%, and selling Macs was only worthwhile if ongoing service and support contracts were provided, of which retailer experiences were inconsistent.[31]

Online store[edit]

In 1997, the year Steve Jobs returned to Apple, Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell was asked how he would fix Apple. Dell responded: "I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders". This angered Jobs, due to Dell's success with its online store originally built by NeXT, Jobs' former business that Apple acquired to bring Jobs back. A team of Apple and NeXT employees spent several months building an online store that would be better than Dell's. On November 10, 1997, Steve Jobs announced the online store at an Apple press event, and during his keynote speech, he said: "I guess what we want to tell you, Michael, is that with our new products and our new store and our new build-to-order manufacturing, we're coming after you, buddy."[32]

In August 2015, Apple revamped the online storefront, removing the dedicated "Store" tab and making the entire website a retail experience.[33][34]


Inside Apple Store at Grand Central Terminal, New York City

Jobs believed the Apple retail program needed to fundamentally change the relationship to the customer, and provide more control over the presentation of Apple products and the Apple brand message. Jobs recognized the limitations of third-party retailing and began investigating options to change the model.[2]

In 1999, Jobs personally recruited Millard Drexler, former CEO of Gap Inc., to serve on Apple's board of directors.[2][35][36] In 2000, Jobs hired Ron Johnson from Target. The retail and development teams headed by Allen Moyer from The Walt Disney Company then began a series of mock-ups for the Apple Store inside a warehouse near the company's Cupertino headquarters.[2]

On May 15, 2001, Jobs hosted a press event at Apple's first store, located at the Tysons Corner Center in Fairfax County, Virginia.[37] The store officially opened on May 19, along with another store in Glendale Galleria in Glendale, California.[37][2][38] More than 7,700 people visited Apple’s first two stores in the opening weekend, spending a total of US$599,000.[39]


Several publications and analysts predicted the failure of Apple Stores, based on sales made per square foot which was a standard metric in computer retail at the time. It was thought that because of the stores' diminutive size and non-aggressive sales team, Apple would succeed in presenting the Mac but fail in making a significant number of sales, despite the huge turnout for the Virginia store. The Apple retail program established its merits and the momentum provided by the introduction of the iPod drove enormous interest in the Apple brand. The "high-profile" retail stores began the initiation of the Flagship style component of the Apple retail strategy. The first high-profile store was in Soho in New York City and was launched to great success; store sales were double projections the first year. The high-profile retail stores, developed by Steve Jobs, the Apple retail team, designers Eight Inc., architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and structural engineers Eckerlsey O'Callaghan have become among the most recognized brand expressions in retail. Apple had proved its critics wrong and by 2007 it ranked among the top retailers in the world. Apple opened its 200th store on October 26, 2007, in Gilbert, Arizona, 2,251 days after opening its Tysons Corner store.[40]

According to Fortune; "Saks, whose flagship store is down the street, generates sales of $362 per square foot a year. Best Buy stores turn $930 - tops for electronics retailers - while Tiffany & Co. takes in $2,666. Audrey Hepburn liked Tiffany's for breakfast, but at $4,032 per square foot, Apple is eating everyone's lunch".[41] In 2011, Apple Stores in the United States had an average revenue of $473,000 for each employee.[25] According to the research firm RetailSails, the Apple Store chain ranked first among U.S. retailers in terms of sales per unit area in 2011, with sales of $3,085 per square feet, almost doubling Tiffany & Co., the second retailer on the list.[25] On a global level, all Apple Stores had a combined revenue of $16 billion.[25] Under the leadership of Ron Johnson, the former senior Vice President of Retail Operations, the Apple Stores have, according to an article in The New York Times, been responsible for "[turning] the boring computer sales floor into a sleek playroom filled with gadgets".[42]

Apple has since re-established ties with major big box retailers like Best Buy and Staples Inc.,[43] as these chains have considerably more geographical reach than the existing network of Apple Stores. Authorized Apple resellers have a dedicated store-within-a-store with wood tables and a backlit Apple Logo. These in-store kiosks feature at least a full-sized Apple ad, and some of the larger displays feature an LCD screen run by a Mac Mini. These boutiques presently showcase iPad tablets and Mac computers, while iPods have their own dedicated space in the MP3 player aisle, and iPhones are displayed in the mobile phone section alongside their wireless carrier.[44] The relationship with Best Buy calls for the company to send Apple Solutions Consultants (ASCs) to train Best Buy employees to be familiar with Apple's product lineup.[28][45]

Apple is reported to be working with Walt Disney World to create the world's largest Apple Store as part of the large scale development of their Downtown Disney retail, dining and entertainment area that will eventually be completed in 2016 under the name of Disney Springs.[46]


Originally, Apple Stores contained a dedicated point-of-sale (POS) station. However, in 2006, Apple began introducing a new store layout and design with surgical-grade stainless steel walls and backlit signage. The new store design replaced the dedicated point-of-sale station with the handheld EasyPay system. A dedicated point-of-sale station still exists in most of these stores to facilitate transactions not paid for by credit card.[47][48] The Regent Street store has more point-of-sale terminals than any other store. Only flagship stores and a few older locations have a dedicated point of sale; all other stores have a POS behind the Genius Bar. Apple has recently changed their EasyPay systems to operate on iPhone 5s, instead of the previous iPod Touch and earlier Windows-based systems. The previous iPod EasyPays featured a custom housing and the Infinite Peripherals Linēa-Pro barcode scanner and card reader, to allow all transactions to be completed on the iPod. Current iPhone 5s systems use a VeriFone e315 which allows barcode and QR code scanning, credit card swiping, EMV chip compatibility, NFC compatibility (thereby enabling Apple Pay functionality), debit PIN entry, and onboard CVV verification.[49]

On May 22, 2011, Apple replaced their acrylic displays that had information about the product with interactive iPad 2 displays, called Smart Signs, which add more information about the product like specifications, comparisons and extended warranties.[50] This transition from paper to touch displays was dubbed "Apple Store 2.0" by online blogs such as Engadget and Gizmodo.[51]

In mid 2015, Apple Stores replaced the interactive 'Smart Signs' with a new Pricing App that allows customers to directly interact with the product they want to purchase and see the price as they pick it up.

In early April 2016, as part of an initiative to become more environmental-friendly, Apple sent an email to employees of Apple Stores that they would begin a transition process with their shopping bags, moving away from the plastic bags that customers get when they buy products in the stores, and switching to paper bags with 80% recyclable materials, with the company expecting the transition to happen on April 15. In the email, Apple also wrote that employees should first ask the customer if they want a bag, rather than giving them one without asking.[52]


Apple Stores have considerably changed the landscape for consumer electronics retailers and influenced other technological companies to follow suit. According to The Globe and Mail, "Apple’s retail stores have taken traffic, control and profits away from Verizon as well as electronics retailers, such as Best Buy, that once looked at wireless phones as a lucrative profit source". CNET has reported that the "Apple retail experience hurts Best Buy" and noted "Buy a MacBook at the Apple Store and it's hard to go back to the Best Buy Windows laptop buying experience". Due to Apple salespeople being more knowledgeable, and Apple Stores being more appealing, aesthetically and practically (looks, layout), CNET suggested that customers would prefer in-store purchases of Apple products at Apple Stores rather than authorized resellers such as Best Buy.[53]

The successful experience that Apple had with its retail stores has been applied to Disney Stores, since Jobs was elected to that company's board of directors in 2006.[54][55]


Apple Store in Union Square, San Francisco after renovation in May 2016. Picture shows the Genius Grove.
Apple's Fifth Avenue store relocated for renovations.

In May 2016, Apple significantly redesigned its Union Square Apple Store in downtown San Francisco, adding large glass doors for the entry, open spaces with touch-sensitive tables and shelves for product displays, and rebranded rooms for the store. "The Avenue" is the central location for hardware, as well as for receiving advice from salespersons and "Creative Pros" - individuals with specialized knowledge of music, creativity, apps and photography. The "Genius Bar" becomes the "Genius Grove", a tree-lined area for help and support. "The Forum" features a large video screen and offers game nights, sessions with experts in creative arts, and community events. "The Boardroom" lets aspiring developers and entrepreneurs learn how to use their products to their full potential. "The Plaza", while limited to select locations, offers a "park-like" space outside the store featuring free 24/7 Wi-Fi access and will host live concerts on some weekends.[56][57] Designed by Jony Ive and Angela Ahrendts, the idea was to make Apple Stores into "town squares", in which people come naturally to the store as a gathering place,[58] and to "help foster human experiences that draw people out of their digital bubbles".[59] The new design will be adopted to every store Apple has,[60] and while renovation is undergoing, stores are either relocated[61] or temporarily closed.[62] For some locations, including its flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York City, the redesign means substantial expansion of space,[63][64] requiring dismantling, and possibly reworking, of its physical properties.[65]

In April 2017, Apple announced that its "Today at Apple" educational sessions, which launched with its Union Square redesign in 2016 and offer more than 60 free hands-on sessions for creative skills, will also be expanded to all of its stores.[66][67]

Genius Bar[edit]

The Genius Bar at Apple Store Regent Street, London
Main article: Genius Bar

All Apple Stores feature a Genius Bar, where customers can receive technical advice or set up service and repair for their products. The Genius Bar provides software support for MacOS and hardware service on products that are not classified vintage or obsolete.[68] However, in most cases the Geniuses will at least attempt to assist customers with older hardware.[69] Originally, visitors to the Genius Bar were offered free Evian water. Apple dropped this amenity in February 2002.[citation needed]

Many new stores feature a station called The Studio, a Genius Bar-like setting where customers can meet with a "Creative" and receive help with projects ranging from organizing a photo album to music composition to film editing.[citation needed] Some of the older stores are being considered to carry a Studio in a future remodel, in some cases replacing the older theaters.[citation needed] The largest Genius Bar in the world is located in Amsterdam.[citation needed]

Store openings[edit]

Apple Store openings often attract thousands of customers who line up early in the morning or even the night before.[citation needed] Most openings are accompanied by giveaways of prizes such as T-shirts and "lucky bags" at flagship store openings.[70][71]


The first two Apple Stores opened in the United States in 2001 (see history above). In 2003, Apple expanded its operations into Japan, opening the first store outside of the United States. This was followed by the opening of stores in the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Australia, China, Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Sweden, Brazil, and Turkey. In 2010 a major effort to expand sales in China was announced along with opening of a store in Shanghai. The first Apple Store in Hong Kong, being the 100th overseas store outside the United States opened on September 24, 2011, occupying Podium 1 and 2 of IFC Mall. The first Apple Store in Belgium opened on September 19, 2015. On October 15, 2015, Apple announced that they will be opening two stores in the United Arab Emirates where one will be in the country's capital Abu Dhabi and another store in Mall of the Emirates Dubai on October 29, 2015.[75][76][77] Apple's eighth New York City store and sixth Manhattan store located in the iconic World Trade Center within the dramatic, $4 billion Oculus structure designed by Santiago Calatrava, opened to the public on August 16, 2016 as a founding store of the building.[78][79][80]

Apple Company Store[edit]

Exterior of the Apple Campus store on Infinite Loop.
Interior view of the Apple Campus store showing Apple-branded shirts.

Apple operates a store on the Apple Campus in Cupertino, at One Infinite Loop, which is open to the public. The store is the only place in the world where Apple logo T-shirts, hats, and other such merchandise can be purchased; it opened in 1993, long before Apple began to have retail stores.[107] Most Apple products are on display here, and various software and accessories can be purchased as well.[108][109] In 2015, the store was refurbished and the number of unique products reduced. It also began selling Apple's 'full line' of products such as iPhones and computers, having for many years only sold accessories and iPods.[110]


An unauthorized Apple Store in Tehran, Iran

In July 2011, an American expatriate blogger who lives in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming reported on her discovery of what she called "the best ripoff store we had ever seen"—a fake Apple Store, complete with the glass exterior, wood display tables, winding staircase and large promotional posters found in legitimate Apple Stores, and with employees wearing lanyards and the same T-shirts as actual Apple Store employees.[111] The Wall Street Journal reported that the store had "gotten widespread international attention for the remarkable lengths to which its proprietors seem to have gone to mimic the look and feel of a real Apple Store."[112] The fake Apple Store was mentioned by U.S. presidential contender Mitt Romney in the second 2012 election debate.[113] Chinese law prohibits retailers from copying the look and feel of competitors' stores, but enforcement is lax.[114]

According to The Wall Street Journal, unauthorized Apple resellers are found throughout China; the blogger's original post noted that two such stores were located within walking distance of the first knockoff, one of them with a misspelled sign reading "Apple Stoer".[112] An employee of the first knockoff confirmed that the store was not one of the 13[114] authorized Apple resellers in Kunming.[111][112] In a follow-up report, Reuters indicated that local authorities in Kunming had closed two fake Apple Stores in that city due to lack of official business permits, but allowed three other such stores to stay open, including the one that had attracted international attention.[114] The operators of that store had applied for a reseller license from Apple.[114] At the time of the report, only four legitimate Apple Stores had opened in China, with two in Beijing and two in Shanghai.[112]

Following these events, more real Apple Stores in China began opening, an early one being the Shenzhen Apple Store on November 3, 2012.[115]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Location First openings Open stores Reference
 United States May 19, 2001 269 [81]
 China July 19, 2008 40 [82]
 United Kingdom November 20, 2004 39 [83]
 Canada May 21, 2005 29 [84][85]
 Australia June 19, 2008 22 [86]
 France November 7, 2009 21 [87]
 Italy March 31, 2007 16 [88]
 Germany December 6, 2008 14 [89]
 Spain September 4, 2010 11 [90]
 Japan November 30, 2003 8 [91]
 Hong Kong September 24, 2011 6 [92]
  Switzerland September 25, 2008 4 [93][94]
 Netherlands March 3, 2012 3 [95]
 Sweden September 15, 2012 3 [96]
 Brazil February 15, 2014 2 [97]
 Turkey April 5, 2014 2 [98]
 United Arab Emirates October 29, 2015 2 [99]
 Belgium September 19, 2015 1 [100][101]
 Macau June 26, 2016 1 [102]
 Mexico September 24, 2016 1 [103]
 Singapore 2017 1 (Upcoming) [104]
 South Korea 2017 1 (Upcoming) [105]
 Argentina 2018 1 (Upcoming) - [106]
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