Apple is Launching a Wholesale Redesign of Their Bricks-and-Mortar Stores. Some of Them, Anyway.

On a square-footage basis, no retailer sells more than Apple. Their 500+ stores are insanely profitable but are also often insanely crowded. Ask anyone who has shown up at the Genius Bar with a dead iPhone on a Saturday morning.

Now the company is looking to redesign 100 of their biggest stores with new video screens, trees (real ones!) and various other changes. For example, the Genius Bar will soon be known as the Genius Grove with each Genius specializing in specific areas (iPhones, photography, music, etc.) Apple educational sessions will be renamed “Today at Apple.”

What’s the point? To give the stores more of a “town square” feel. This comes on the orders of Angela Ahrendts, who came over from Burberry in 2013 to oversee Apple’s retail operations.

CBS This Morning had a big feature on the changes this morning.

“I was thinking about this ‘cause this is the first big redesign in 15 years. And it was Steve Jobs and Ron Johnson who did the first design of the Apple stores. Did that weigh on you? Oh my gosh? Following in Steve Jobs’ footsteps here?” Norah O’Donnell asked.

“You know, I think that anything you do at Apple… you feel a tremendous onus,” Ahrendts said in a rare television interview with “CBS This Morning.” “You want to carry on the legacy of what it meant… the main objective – our soul is our people. And our job is to enrich their lives, change the world. And so I think that’s the bigger pressure you put on yourself.”

It was in 2001 that the world got its first look inside an Apple store, but now the look and the feel of the stores are changing, thanks to the 56-year-old.

“Probably the simplest way to describe it – because everything at Apple has to be simple. The way that – that we kinda talk about it inside… we say, ‘This is the largest product that Apple produces,’” Ahrendts said. “So if you think of it, the hardware, which is the architecture of the store. The software is what happens in the store and how we basically turn on Apple music and the app store. … So we started with the hardware.

Keep reading. The official press release goes like this:

“Today at Apple” offers programs with more than 60 different sessions in creative skills, including:

– Studio Hours are Apple’s version of a professor’s office hours. Creative Pros host 90-minute sessions on topics from art and design to documents and presentations. Anyone is welcome to bring in a personal project for advice from experts, or to use the space to work alongside others.

– Photo or Sketch Walks help attendees go beyond capturing moments by exploring new techniques hands on as they interact in their local community. Photo Walks include sessions such as framing architecture or capturing action on video, while Sketch Walks explore observational drawings, watercolour and brush techniques, and more.

– Kids Hour is designed to spark imagination and creativity through fun, hands-on projects. Sessions include coding with Sphero robots, Creating Music with GarageBand, and Making Movies Together with iMovie.

– Coding sessions are meant to introduce anyone to coding through Swift Playgrounds, an iPad app designed to make coding interactive and fun for beginners. These sessions will explore coding concepts with the same code professional developers use every day.**

– Photo Labs bring in talented photographers to experiment with new techniques and styles or uncover a new point of view in hands-on sessions. Similarly, Music Labs explore different genres and beats to introduce new tools to musicians of all levels.*

– Pro Series take advanced users on a deep dive into Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X with sessions on colour correction and grading to post production, or audio mixing to editing for emotion, and more.*

– Perspectives and Performances, offered at select stores, feature influential artists and musicians talking about their creative process or sharing their talents live.

To deliver the new programs, each store will receive new Forum Displays, mobile screens created by Apple’s design team specifically for “Today at Apple” sessions, and updated seating and sound.

“Today at Apple” will launch worldwide in May, with sessions in every store.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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