Writing for the Washington Post , Nicole C. Wong noted that Apple is bucking the trend in computer retailing by opening its own retail stores, rather than consolidating efforts like competitor Gateway Inc. Wong’s comments come in a new article entitled
Apple’s Time to Grow.
Wong also said that Apple’s contrarian style continues with its decision to release the iPod at a time when Intel is getting out of the camera and digital music player business.
“Analysts say the strategy can be risky at a time when home computers are increasingly regarded as commodities, and buyers have lost some of their enthusiasm for purchasing cutting-edge gadgets. But then, Apple has never been one to follow convention,” said Wong.
Wong said that like many other computer manufacturers, Apple lost money this year, but that hasn’t stopped them from spending millions to open retail stores and to develop the iPod. This strategy has some benefits, though: Apple senior vice president of retail Ron Johnson explained that the stores give Apple the ability to provide Macs with the same public exposure that they’d previously only get during Macworld Expos.
The wisdom of Apple’s strategy picking locations for its retail stores eludes some. Johnson explained that Apple opened a new store in Clarendon, VA., for example — only twelve miles from its Tysons Corner store — to get a better handle on what type of shopping environment it will succeed in. Wong said that Tysons Corner is an affluent suburban mall; Clarendon is a more urban development accessible by Metrorail.
Wong said that Apple’s retail strategy is different from Gateway’s because it’s targeting high-visibility, affluent areas. And why is Apple focusing on appliances like the iPod? One analyst suggested it’s because it draws people into those retail locations.
“They’ll go into the store to look at the MP3 player, and that gives the salesperson a chance to tell them about the computers,” said Giga Information Group research fellow Rob Enderle.