Apple’s Retail division has no plans to scale back its ambitions, according to a report Thursday in USA Today, and in fact sees opportunity in the recent economic contraction.
“We’re investing in the downturn,” said Ron Johnson, Apple’s senior vice president of retail. Apple plans to remodel 100 of its existing stores this year, adding space for customer training and room for displaying more product. The company also plans to open 25 new stores, including a fourth location in New York City, and new ones in Paris, Italy and Germany.
Stores will soon display “twice the amount” of Mac computers and other products, according to Johnson, and Genius Bars will get 50% more room to serve up free tech support for Apple products.
Beginning June 2, Apple’s One to One product training program will limit sign-ups to purchasers of new Mac computers at Apple Stores or via the company’s website, although any of the half million current One to One subscribers will be able to renew their $99 one year subscriptions .
“We originally set up One to One to get people to switch to the Mac,” Johnson said. “Now we want to expand it to make it even more relevant to people who have bought their Mac.”
Still priced at $99, the annual subscription includes personal setup, transferring of files from an older computer (Windows or Mac) and help with projects.
Previously, sessions timed out at one hour; new policy will extend the limit to three hours, but sessions could also include up to three participants.
Even in the light of his division’s expansion plans, Johnson conceded the recession has affected in-store traffic. Apple reported a 3% decline in sales during the most recently reported quarter. Traffic remains strong, he said, but has cooled off since last summer, when long lines greeted the introduction of the second-generation iPhone.
With many expecting an update to the iPhone to be announced at next week’s WWDC in San Francisco, Apple stores could well see the return of long lines and a need for all that extra space.