Apple Stores in Austin

On the latest episode of Core Intuition, we talk about Daniel’s trip to Paris for dotSwift, the state of podcasting after the recent Spotify acquisitions, and then we close talking about Angela Ahrendts leaving Apple. Reflecting on the progress of the Apple Stores, I was thinking back to 11 years ago when I was waiting in line to buy the original iPhone. Here’s a photo of me from Damon Clinkscales while we waited in line.

Back in 2007 when that photo was taken, there were 2 Apple Stores in Austin. That was before the iPhone shipped. Today, after Apple now has 900 million iPhones in use, Austin still only has 2 Apple Stores. The stores are bigger and better than they were in 2007, but there’s no escaping the fact that you can’t scale to supporting so many millions of customers without adding new Apple Stores.

I have no major complaints with the Apple Store experience. It’s crowded, of course, and not everyone who works in retail has the right answer to every question, but they do a good job and I think most people leave the store happy. Getting support directly in person is a great perk of being an Apple customer.

But you can’t design your way out of this problem with more efficient stores or even bigger stores. At some point, Apple needs to add more stores. I doubt there’s a major city in the United States that wouldn’t provide a better experience by adding 1–2 stores.

Could they overdo it, weakening their reputation by opening too many stores of lower quality? Dominic Williams writes on his blog:

In my local city of Cardiff, they are placed directly in the middle of St David’s shopping centre. Short of repurposing Cardiff Castle, I couldn’t think of a better spot. They want their stores to be shining beacons in the cities they are in. Having one on every corner takes away their allure.

There’s a balance here. Apple Stores can be beautiful and practical without every store planned as an architectural marvel. Perfection on the design of each store might be holding them back from better serving customers.

Daniel and I go into more detail on this in the latest episode, with a discussion that eventually leads to answering the important question: why did Daniel go to a Starbucks in Paris? Enjoy!