Despite a challenging economic climate, Apple is not shying away from putting more money into the consumer market. In its quarterly conference call last April, the company said it planned to open only 25 stores this year, a fraction of the 247 it opened last year.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not investing into the retail experience: according to a report in USA Today , Apple plans on remodelling 100 of its outlets this year, with a focus on training, customer service, and product display. In an interview with the paper, Ron Johnson, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, new tables will offer room for double the number of products on display, and Genius Bar space will be expanded by 50 percent. Johnson says it’s part of Apple “investing in the downturn,” echoing a sentiment expressed by Apple CEO Steve Jobs in Apple’s quarterly conference call last October.
In addition, the company will be making some changes in its training program, One to One. Session time will increase to a maximum of three hours, up from one hour, although, in contradiction with the program’s title, they may also include up to three trainees at a time. In addition, starting on June 2, only those who are buying new Macs will be eligible to sign up for the US$99 per year training sessions (although current subscribers can renew for another year).
According to Johnson, the goal is to make One to One “even more relevant to people who have bought their Mac.” However, the fact that they’ve changed the program to accommodate multiple trainees, as well as restricting the sign-ups to new buyers, also suggests an attempt to cut costs–particularly in light of the recent drop in the number of full-time equivalents for Apple Stores. The changes could mark a sign of Apple streamlining its process and trying to do more with less.