Whereas large PC manufacturers such as Dell
and Compaq are laying off people and PC sales are generally slowing down, Apple has announced it'll be opening retail outlets throughout the country. Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, is known for creating quite some media attention when introducing new products and this announcement is no exception as he seems very optimistic about the whole idea. To be honest we're a bit skeptical about the idea, as the timing couldn't be worse, but Apple seems to either not care or has a card up their sleeve.
One thing is for sure, Apple sales will increase now that Apple products are easier accessible. Once a network of sales points has been established it is easier for Apple to familiarize its potential costumers with their products and naturally persuade them to go with a Mac instead of a PC. Whether that'll even out the costs made for exploiting these new sales points and the people working there remains to be seen though.
One thing the Apple retail outlets may offer is a better buying experience than retail outlets that are currently carrying both Macs and PCs. Most current retail outlets that sell Macs and PCs either don't have the expertise to differentiate between the Mac and the PC, or are unable to help the customer properly whilst making their buying decision. As they often do sells Macs but not a large collection of Mac compatible software, making the choice for the PC an easy one, as PC software is available in surplus. So if you're out to buy a new computer at these retail outlets you've got to really want to buy a Mac.
While for example CompUSA, Fry's and Circuit City all have Mac products on display, they usually shove them in the corner somewhere, and the people who are supposed to be selling them often donít even properly understand them. Naturally in retail stores run by Apple, this will not be an issue, the products are all made by Apple, supported by Apple and Apple can guarantee there is sufficient supply of software and peripherals.
Overall the whole idea of increasing Apple's visibility to the average consumer and start selling Macs at Apple retail outlets is a great concept, the benefits might outweigh the negatives, but it is still rather risky to start opening retail outlets when all other manufacturers are laying off people and feeling the downfall in PC sales.
I really think it would make much more sense to spend a couple of million on another advertising campaign, as those have always been very successful, and thereby reach a lot of people, rather than opening stores across the country that may generate increased sales but the net effect could be lower than that of the ad campaign, resulting in higher costs overall and thus a reduction in profits.
Please visit http://www.apple.com
to read the official press release and to take a look at the virtual shop that's featuring on Apple's website.