According to a report on local television station KHOU Channel 11 you just might get more than you bargained for after your next trip to a local Apple Store in Houston, Texas. According to authorities in Houston there have been at least six Apple customers in Houston who have been followed home and robbed at gunpoint.
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On Tuesday this week Square started passing out invitations to the companies first special event. The event will take place at Square’s headquarters in San Francisco on May 23rd at 10:00 AM PDT. Some “exciting news” will be announced.
Ten years ago, the first Apple retail store opened in Tysons Corner Center, Virginia.
Steve Jobs, clad in a black turtleneck and black Levis, showed journalists around the new concept store that would forever change computer retailing.
For some people, getting the chance to work for Apple seems like one of the coolest jobs on the planet. Being surrounded by everything Apple. Super discounts on iMacs. Talking to customers about how incredibly magical the products are. If that all sounds awesome to you then go ahead and disregard the fact that it’s easier to get into Harvard than to get hired by Apple. Here is Cult of Mac’s first-hand look at how the Apple hiring process plays out.
Spending copious amounts of time on Apple’s website on March 2nd, I stumbled across the hiring section of the site and thought to myself, “Hmmm why not apply for some jobs and see what happens?” Figuring nothing would come of it due to my blogging background, I submitted my resume for a couple of desk jobs in Cupertino, LA, and then applied for all the available retail positions in the Phoenix area. Within two days of submitting I was shocked to get an email inviting me to an “Apple Career Seminar” at a Phoenix hotel in two days. I was told I had to reply within 24 hours because slots were filling up quickly.
The only way to ensure that you have an iPad 2 today is to buy one from one of the many retail outlets. However, all retailers are not treated equally, so I’ll be giving you the run down on the best places to purchase your iPad 2 from.
Your best, hassle-free bet is to pick one up from an Apple Specialist. Here’s why:
When the Apple Store came back online yesterday after the announcement of the iPad 2, customers were a bit shocked to find out that Apple is not taking any pre-orders for the device until March 11th, the same day the product hits store shelves. Apple has always had a great track record of taking pre-orders on products after they’ve been announced, so we’ve been wondering just why they’ve changed policy this time. Could it be that they’re afraid they’re not going to have enough initial stock to satisfy store orders as well as online orders?
Rumors were flying around the web days before the event that Apple has been facing supply constraints for the iPad 2 and that the product was facing the serious possibility of being delayed until April or May. When Steve Jobs took the stage yesterday, he went out of his way to adamantly state that the iPad 2 would be launching worldwide in March, and not April or May. Is the move to eliminate pre-orders an effort to increase the lines at stores and build even more hype around the excitement of the launch? That could possibly be the answer but I think it’s a bit unlikely.
The arrests of nearly 30 people are expected to be announced today in a New York-based cybercrime ring targeting Apple stores.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. will name names Wednesday of the dirty two-plus-dozen who forged credit card numbers to buy goods from Apple stores across the country.
The allegations involve a total of 27 people and roughly $1 million in ill-gotten gains from Apple stores across the country from New York to Los Angeles to Wauwatosa, Wis.
The indictment lists purchases in Apple stores including Las Vegas, Atlanta, Indianapolis and St. Louis, and smaller communities such as Altamonte Springs, Fla., and Stamford, Conn.
Group members of the group occasionally ran up sizeable tabs – more than $3,000 worth of products in one go — but other transactions were as small as a $53.45 tab for a laptop case, according to the indictment.
Accused ringleader Shaheed Bilal had thousands of stolen credit card numbers stored in e-mails and bragged on Twitter about using credit cards at restaurants, prosecutors said at his arraignment Tuesday.
Software giant Microsoft plans to open a new retail store Nov. 6 in Minnesota’s gigantic Mall of America — directly opposite from the Apple Store.
I predict that the Microsoft Store will fail spectacularly.
PC giant Dell tried retail locations a few years ago — the company peaked at 140 mall kiosks before the company announced that electronics superstores and the dell.com web site were better places for customers to buy.
Gateway tried it, too. The company opened more than 260 “Gateway Country” stores several years ago before shutting them down and selling out to Acer.
Microsoft’s Mall of America store will be much larger than the Apple Store across the walkway — reportedly 8,600 total square feet and 5,200 of which devoted to public showroom. And it will be a lot bigger than Microsoft’s existing retail stores in Scottsdale, Ariz., Lone Tree, Colo., and Mission Viejo and San Diego, Calif. (Apple has 310 stores.)
The new Microsoft store will mimic Apple’s shiny modern industrial wood, metal and glass architectural style. Employees will high-five customers as they stream in on Day One. There will be computers and tablets and smart phones displayed.
Microsoft’s strategy for competing technologies has always been to “embrace and extend.” The strategy for retail appears to be “copy and outspend.”
Why the Microsoft Store Will Fail
Tech giants, including Apple, open retail stores for four reasons:
1. Increase sales
2. Improve branding awareness and affinity
3. Improve public familiarity with products
4. Provide a place for tech support
I predict that Microsoft will fail in all four of these areas. Here’s why:
Apple Stores are profitable. The Microsoft store will not be. It probably wasn’t designed to be. It probably can’t be. The details of Microsoft’s money-losing retail strategy, especially for this giant store, will be contrasted unfavorably with the details of Microsoft’s incredibly lucrative retail strategy. Microsoft will probably lose a lot of money on this store, and the fact will embarrass.
The majority of PC users and the majority of cell phone owners — in other words, the majority of mall goers — do not use Apple products. Apple increases sales with its Apple stores by introducing people to its products.
People may walk by the store fogging the glass 10 times before they ever go in. Once inside, they play around with the computers, fondle the iPads, and allow themselves to be dazzled by the big screens.
For the average mall goer, the Apple Store is a journey into an exotic and beautiful alternative universe. But the Microsoft Store will be like a journey into… Best Buy.
Placing the Microsoft Store directly opposite from the Apple Store is an error. Once the novelty has worn off, the Apple Store will be consistently busier with a much broader spectrum of consumer. While the Microsoft store may be a hit with a 13-year-old boys who want to play Xbox on giant screen, proximity will expose differences in the consumer appeal of each company.
Note that Microsoft has many loyal and enthusiastic business customers. But they won’t be at the mall to represent.
Apple has its Genius Bar, which is a mixed bag of customer service experiences. Some people walk away unhappy, but some people are completely satisfied.
Offering tech support at the Microsoft store is probably a bad idea. Because the Windows platform is what Steve Jobs would call a “fragmented” environment (OS from one company, hardware from another), tech support issues are likely to require intervention by companies other than Microsoft. So Microsoft may not offer tech support, which makes the company look bad. Or it may offer tech support, which makes the company look worse. It’s a no-win for Microsoft.
The problem with Microsoft opening a store directly across from an Apple Store is that it invites comparison between a company that’s in a position to benefit from retail against one that isn’t.
Retail benefits Apple because the company’s products are more beautiful than its competition and less familiar. Retail benefits Apple because its products are all of a kind, they look as if they come from the same company with the same aesthetic value. So the Apple Store has a unified appeal that Microsoft won’t be able to fully replicate.
Microsoft may be a great company with much to offer. But it has nothing to gain from a retail store — especially one right across from an Apple Store — except embarrassment.
Beijing’s flagship Apple store closed at noon after opening at 7am Wednesday, after massive crowds and store personnel began pushing and shoving as some customers bought 20 and 30 iPhone 4 units at a time, with the clear intention of turning around and selling them on the street, according to a report at the China-based blog MICgadget.
Perhaps the idea of removing the two-phone purchase limit and allowing Chinese iPhone 4 fans to by them in unlimited quantities was not such a great one.
At press time MICgadget is reporting that sanity has been restored: “All four Apple retail stores in China now require customer to show his/her identity card while purchasing the iPhone 4. Every customer could only purchase one iPhone 4. Apple employees will unbox the iPhone 4 for customers and activate the phone right away. So, the iPhone 4 scalpers could not resell the iPhone 4 as “brand new” and buy in large quantities.”
CNET has a great article up that details the secrets of Apple’s customer service. Erica Ogg highlights the recent findings of the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index, a sort of Michelin guide for customer service and appreciation. Apple not only earned its highest score to date in this survey, it established a monster lead over other PC makers.
The real story is how much further ahead of its peers Apple is in this [survey]. The Mac maker’s nine-point lead is now the largest lead any company has over its competition in any of the 45 categories that the ACSI study surveys–including home appliances, gas stations, autos, e-commerce, airlines, and more.
The real secret to Apple’s success is that there are no secrets.