How does Apple hire people for business

16 years of the Apple Store

Peter Müller

Today, May 19th, it will be exactly sixteen years since Apple opened its first two Apple Stores in Virginia and California. The stores in the best locations are both calling cards and sales drivers for Apple. Today, however, they should be more than just technology stores.

Apple's own chain of stores is booming, sixteen years after it opened. There are currently 495 branches in 21 countries around the world, most of them of course in the USA. But stores in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and the Netherlands have recently been added. By the end of 2017, Apple also plans to open three stores in India, in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. The expansion in China alone is still stalling a little, but here, too, Apple still has room for growth. Every store is something like a permanent exhibition, and walk-in customers can admire the latest Apple devices and try them out right away. But buyers of Mac, iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch can also find professional advice and support in the event of problems. In the meantime, it makes no difference whether you shop online or offline; a device ordered on the website after closing time can be picked up the next day at the Apple Store of your choice. In Germany, the 14 stores are now distributed almost across the board, and nobody has more than 200 kilometers to the nearest Apple Store.

The commitment of the former Burberry boss Angela Ahrendts as Senior Vice President Retail has had an impact since spring 2016. A flagship store with new concepts opened in Union Square in San Francisco. The most obvious: The Genius Bar has disappeared and has given way to a Genius Grove, an artificial grove in which customers and support can meet more informally than before and discuss problems and solutions. The concept called "Today at Apple" has been implemented worldwide since May 17th. Even older stores that cannot get a complete renovation during ongoing operations shine with new facilities such as various seating areas or movable monitors for presentations. According to Ahrendt's will, the Apple Store should no longer be a mere technology store, but a meeting point for the community, who can attend seminars, lectures and concerts there, but can also simply exchange ideas with other users. Instead of "at Starbucks", they will meet in future "at Apple", that is the idea. Sometimes no coffee is even better than sugary coffee in a paper cup ...

People should still go shopping, although it would of course be faster and more convenient online. The branches of the Apple Store are also a major source of revenue; in 2014, for example, Apple made 21.46 billion US dollars in its stores, and the trend is rising. Probably no other trading channel brings Apple such a strong flow of money.

But the success also has a downside, especially smaller retailers can no longer keep up with the competition from the Apple Store and are disappearing more and more. Other retail chains either specialize in a certain group of customers or include products from other manufacturers in their range. If you want a certain device in a certain configuration or color, you will not always find it in the electronics store, the way to the Apple Store is then inevitable. But even for store employees and customers it sometimes becomes too much of a good thing, as anyone who visits one of the Apple Stores in a prime sales location on a Saturday will notice. But since Angela Ahrendts took over responsibility for the offline and online store, the two offerings have grown closer together. Research prices here, touch them there, make an appointment here and attend it there, you can even book a try-on of the Apple Watch in advance, on the web and in the Apple Store app.

We look back on 16 years of history of the Apple Store and show some spectacular branches.

Boom for an entire industry

The specialist trade, one might think, sees itself cannibalized by the Apple Store. But the opposite seems to be true. In times when the classic department store with its diversified range is threatened with extinction, flagship stores like Apple's are countering the trend towards branding experiences. The idea is not entirely new. A good 30 years before Apple, an Italian sweater manufacturer had the idea not to present its goods alongside other brands in department stores, but rather to rent stores in prime locations. Apple implemented the Benetton concept for electronics and thus not only made its own brand shine, but also revitalized the entire market. Because an Apple Store is clearly not enough in a city with 1.3 million inhabitants like Munich to serve the needs of all Mac users. So if you can't get close to an Apple seller with all the walk-in customers to treat yourself to the new Macbook Air, you just march a few streets further, to the specialist dealer or the trusted retail chain in a 1-b location.

EnlargePictures of the opening of the first two Apple stores

The double premiere: McLean and Glendale

The time for the store to open was cleverly chosen: two days before WWDC in 2001, Apple opened the first two branches of its chain of stores, known as the Apple Store. Steve Jobs personally guided through the store in Glendale, Southern California in a video that Apple showed the developers at the opening of the conference and posted on its website. This should set "the gold standard" among retailers for Apple, said the CEO of the Mac manufacturer the claim. At the bottom, Apple has divided the architecture of the stores into three areas: "Software", "Home and Pro" and "Solutions", plus the "Genius Bar" as the actual heart of the store. Quite a few analysts reacted with skepticism, only shortly before the - no longer independent - manufacturer Gateway had to close its own 27 stores in the USA due to a lack of sales. However, while the prediction by David Goldstein of Channel Marketing Corp. that Apple "would" turn the lights off again "in two years at the latest has really not materialized, the optimistic view of Chicago market researcher George Rosenbaum, who himself asked why Apple had waited so long for its own chain. Apple wouldn't be Apple if the premiere of the Apple Store hadn't turned out to be a special event. Because Apple opened not just one store on May 19, 2010, but two at the same time. McLean celebrated the store opening a few hours before the premiere in Glendale, the different time zones are the reason for this. The store in Tyson's Corner Center in the small town of McLean in the US state of Virginia resembled the version shown by Steve Jobs in the video in Glendale, California, in every detail, and other stores also used the same interior design. By the end of 2001, Apple had opened 27 stores across the country.

With the Apple Store in Pasadena, which opened on January 7, 2003 on the day of the keynote for Macworld Expo 2003 ("Year of the Notebook"), Apple gave all new branches a new layout. Since then, the interior has consisted of the familiar stone floors and light maple furniture, but the glass staircase is reserved for flagship stores with two or more floors - the first store with a glass staircase was the one in Soho in Manhattan. Today the Apple stores are facing further redesigns, huge flat screens that cover entire walls are one of the innovations. Since 2015 you can see more and more showcases that you otherwise only knew from goldsmiths and watchmakers, but there is a reason ...

The glass case on Fifth Avenue as a projection surface

Between May 19, 2001, the date when the first two Apple stores opened, and May 19, 2006, when Apple opened its 147th store directly on Fifth Avenue, there are not only exactly five years, but worlds. While Apple was still a niche manufacturer in 2001 and the world was still okay in some ways, two events in the fall of the same year changed everything. On October 23, Apple entered the iPod era, and on September 11, four planes put an end to the notion that the end of the Cold War would be the end of the worst political conflicts.

EnlargeThe store on 5th Avenue

Even for Apple, which had been back on the road to success since the return of Steve Jobs, the success of the iMac and the switch to Mac OS X that began at the turn of the millennium, the recession that followed the attacks in New York began with difficult times with sometimes bitter quarterly losses - The crisis was not over until the end of 2002.

Store by store, Apple expanded its retail chain, and in May 2006 Apple made a mark of its economic recovery and the radiance of its brand with a spectacular building on Fifth Avenue. The entrance to the flagship store is formed by a glass cube, which always provides beautiful images and thus best accentuates the apple mounted on it. Greepeace, for example, used the cube to draw attention to alleged or actual environmental sins Apple with a green light. It was no coincidence that a long queue formed in front of the store on the first day of iPhone sales at the end of June 2007, and everyone was reporting on it.

But the architecture and radiance of the Apple Store can also be misunderstood, as a look at the news from October 2006 shows. During the construction work, the cube was still covered by black wooden boards, so that from the outside it resembled the Kaaba in Mecca. Many New York Apple fans were not bothered by it and referred to the store as their personal Mecca. The fact that the Genius Bar sounds like a place where alcohol is served has caused further irritation in certain circles. Specifically: The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported that a Pakistani blog had described the store on Fifth Avenue as an "insult to Islam". The excitement turned out to be a storm in a tumbler, but five years after September 11th, Apple had also become cautious. An Apple spokesman told British journalist Asharq Alawsat: "Apple has never called the new store a Mecca, nor should the entrance resemble the Kaaba. We respect all cultures and religions and regret that the comments of independent bloggers [who run the store called Mecca], hurt people. "

New York is still considered the secret capital of the Apple stores with currently six branches. The one in Grand Central Station is even open around the clock. There is no other way, because it has no doors that could be locked.

Premieres in Europe

On November 20, 2004, almost three and a half years to the day after the premiere of the Apple Store in the USA, Europe finally got its first store with the apple logo. The transatlantic bridge initially ended in London. Apple also donated a superlative to the British capital: the Apple Store in Regent Street in London was the largest in the world when it opened. The store held the title for a long time, the palace with a glass cube on Fifth Avenue did not overtake London until May 2006 - but after a renovation, the Apple Store London was number one again in December 2006.

With the expansion into Europe, Apple continued the tradition of Grand Openings. It is true that not every new Apple Store attracts the masses anymore, but the big flagships with which Apple drives into new countries do. Even in November. Anyone who thinks freezing temperatures have prevented Apple enthusiasts from camping on Regent Street the night before the opening is underestimating the queuing British. At five in the morning 500 fans were waiting for the opening of the first European Apple Store, and around 5000 onlookers crowded Regent Street when the doors finally opened five hours later. Granted, the hype has subsided a bit, but even today Apple customers can't wait to storm into a new store.

Apple opened the first Apple Store on mainland Europe in Rome on March 31, 2007. Rome - what could be more beautiful setting than the eternal city for an Apple Store? Just imagine: Glass fronts with an apple logo made of Carrara marble, elegantly integrated into Renaissance facades, Macs, iPhones and iPods draped on antique columns, an imperial throne for any visits by Steve Jobs to Rome and the Pope at a private audience, Apple One -on-one training is called. None of this is true. The Roman Apple Store is located in a shopping center in an industrial area in the eastern suburbs, where the province of Lazio began long ago in antiquity.

First in Switzerland, then in Germany

The Swiss are often described as slow, and quite a few of the Swiss like to play self-deprecatingly with the cliché. But they are on their toes: More than a year before the German Apple stores opened, the first in Switzerland. That was the case on September 25, 2008, in Geneva. Those familiar with the topography of the language in Switzerland know straight away that this cannot be the first Apple Store in the German-speaking region, at Lac Léman - also known as Lake Geneva - French is the predominant language. The first Apple Store in the German-speaking area was not long in coming, and the store opened in Zurich's Glattzentrum just one day later. It is easy to justify the fact that Switzerland was clearly ahead of its big neighbor in the north-east when it came to Apple Store. Traditionally, the Mac has high market shares in Switzerland; even in the times of crisis in the late 1990s, it was always around ten percent. Not only the Mac is proving to be popular with the Swiss, the iPhone and iPad are also very popular between Lake Constance and Lake Geneva. Austria still does not have a store, but in Europe Sweden, Turkey and the Netherlands have recently been added, with three (Sweden, Netherlands) and two stores (Turkey) respectively.

The German stores: from south to north, from west to east

In the self-image of the Munich resident, first comes his own city - and then nothing for a long time. The Munich-based company was not at all surprised that Apple opened the first German store of its chain of stores in the Bavarian capital - just in time for the Christmas business on St. Nicholas Day 2008. At best, the Munich resident was surprised that Apple had stores elsewhere - which could only have been due to the fact that in 2001 there was still a dilapidated house at Rosenstrasse 1, which has since given way to a neat new building. This houses the store in the well-known wood and glass design on two floors, but the building blends in harmoniously with the neighborhood. And that is not without, and from Apple's point of view, the main reason to try Munich first in Germany. At the corner of Rosenstrasse, Kaufingerstrasse leads west from Marienplatz; together with the adjoining Neuhauserstrasse, it is one of the most profitable shopping malls in Europe - a top address. And only at such locations do Apple Stores fit in with the self-image of the Mac manufacturer.

EnlargeThe Apple Store in Munich was not only the first ever in Germany, but also the first with a works council.