Apple retail stores aimed to grow Mac market share

For those who wonder how Apple plans to grow, the company gave part of their answer today: Apple retail stores. The first two will open Saturday at Tysons Corner in McLean, VA, and the Gendale Galleria in Glendale, CA. Twenty-three more will open across the United States before the end of the year with more planned for 2002.

"We'll be opening more next year, but we'll refine our plans based on how the first stores do," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said during the announcement of the retail stores at a special presentation in Tysons Corner.

Growth is the main reason for this new chapter in Apple history. Jobs said that Apple currently has about five percent of the overall computer market today, or 25 million customers worldwide. That's not bad, the CEO pointed out, as BMW and Mercedes Benz have, respectively, 1.8 and 2.1 percent of the auto market and they seem to be doing okay. However, Apple doesn't plan on settling for 5 percent. The conundrum is how to reach the other 95 percent.

"The challenge, based on our market research, is that most of that 95 percent don't even consider us before going out and buying a personal computer," Jobs said. "We're not even in the running. We want to change that."

A "manifesto" ad that will run in several national newspapers tomorrow will focus on Apple's goal of "5 down, 95 to go." Jobs said that Apple plans on turning some heads in the non-Mac using population.

"We want to convince the other 95 percent that Apple offers good products," he said. " If only 5 of 95 people in this group become Mac users, we'll double our market share."

Apple's focus on the Mac as a digital hub for a digital lifestyle is another reason for opening the stores, Jobs said. The stores will give people who might not otherwise have a chance to actually make an iMovie, burn a CD, and get hands on experience with the entire range of Mac products.

The third reason for opening its own stores is to set a "gold standard" for how products should be sold. Jobs said that the Apple stores would offer ideas that other resellers could take and "run with." And if the resellers have good or better ideas, Apple may incorporate those into its stores, he added. The CEO emphasized that its own stores wouldn't compete with current resellers.

Jobs said that Apple resells products through 3,000 locations and its 25 stores represent less than 1percent of additional locations. He also said that there were no plans for "Apple store only" products to be offered. All products will be available to all resellers.

"Our strategy isn't to put our resellers out of business, but to work side by side with them. We think our stores will help resellers a lot by increasing exposure to the Mac platform."

Tysons Corner was chosen as the showcase for today's big announcement simply because it was completed first, he added. Plus, the mall is one of the 10 biggest and best in the country, Jobs said.

"Apple has a lot of customers who live and work and shop around here. "It's hard to get into Tyson's Corner, but when we found space that was available, we jumped on it."

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