Live from the Apple Store, Part 2: Fast Buying, Better Stuff
Yes, there are some interesting things happening inside Apple Stores too. By now, you’ve surely seen their holiday-themed exteriors - snowmen with glowing white iPod earphones and nanos, flanked by graphics of the new aluminum shuffles and colored nanos - and the really cool Mac and iPod promotional videos that are playing on the demonstration computers. That’s all old stuff, if November news can be considered old.
More recent is Express Shopping. An expansion of the company’s introduction last year of wireless, portable credit card swipers, designed to get people out of lines with faster checkouts, Apple’s now setting aside huge blocks of floor space near the front to get iPods and Macs into customers’ hands without any wait time.
The countertops full of iPods or MacBooks aren’t quite as visually stunning as the shelving units full of nanos and shuffles we saw in Japanese Apple Stores, but the idea’s plenty convenient, especially during the frenzied last shopping days leading up to Christmas.
Apple’s also selling a number of iPod-related items that can’t be found at other electronics stores, and discounting some other products. Besides Sonic Impact’s ROXY version of the i-P22 speaker system, previously noted on iLounge, the company’s portable video display Video-55 has dropped to $200 - the mass-market price point it should have shipped at. We’re not sure if this price reduction is permanent - Target has it on a temporary sale, too - but it’s interesting nonetheless, and a stronger match for the $200 Memorex iFlips we’ve recently seen on 20% discounts elsewhere, as well as the iLuv i1055/Zeon Z1055s that appear to be in pricing freefall at the moment.
Also interesting: the Apple Store’s profound focus on selling speakers. Other than setting the white-ish models on top of one set of shelves and the black-ish ones on another, the ever-increasing selection of options has been laid out in rough price order, with the AudioStation Express and iPod Hi-Fi bookending shelves filled with otherwise more interesting options, some Apple-exclusive or near-exclusive. Our favorites are the clock radios: XtremeMac’s Luna is, for the moment, hard if not impossible to find anywhere else, and the iHome iH6 also appears to be limited in availability to certain chains. It’s probably not surprising that Apple isn’t reserving much floor space for new genres of products, such as wearable video displays, karaoke add-ons, or iPod toys; given all of the speakers, iPods, headphones, car accessories, and cases, it was almost weird to see the iMuffs wireless Bluetooth headset at all in the store, yet without now numerous competing options. There’s a lot of the accessory marketplace that’s not represented here, and low sales are most likely the reason.
Of course, Apple does have to reserve space for its own products, especially the exclusive ones. Besides the PRODUCT (RED) iPod nanos and matching iTunes Gift Cards, there are now $100 denomination iTunes Cards, plenty of TV show-specific iTunes Cards, and all sorts of AppleCare boxes around the store. ProCare plans are also being pushed if you talk with the right salespeople, and we even saw LoJack service plans being sold at another Apple Store location a week or two ago. From what we’ve been seeing over the past few weeks at these shops, there seems to be no shortage of demand for Apple hardware, related service plans, iTunes content, or accessories this season, which means that come January, Apple’s going to have a lot to brag about. We’re anxious to hear the official numbers, but we’re pretty sure they’re going to be impressive.
If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods or accessories, or if you sell or market products, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators. Wondering why we're talking about something other than iPods? Check the Archives: Backstage has been here and kicking it since 2004.
- Walgreens adds digital coupons to Apple Pay
- China orders Apple and others to monitor, report on app users
- South Korea regulators investigating Apple
- Apple Q3 earnings call set for July 26
- Apple’s UK tax bill under scrutiny
- Apple lays out ‘differential privacy’ plan for data collection
- Report: New iPhone’s space gray to be ‘much darker color’
- Incipio to acquire Skullcandy
- Apple confirms iOS 10 kernel was left open to improve performance
- Apple leaves iOS 10 kernel open to scrutiny
- Philips Hue White Ambience Starter Kit
- Naim Audio Mu-so Qb Speaker
- Phiaton BT 460 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
- Zagg Slim Book for 9.7” iPad Pro
- Element Case Ronin for iPhone 6/6s
- JBL Clip 2 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
- Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT Wireless On-Ear Headphones
- Catalyst Case for iPad mini 4
- Jaybird Freedom Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
- Zagg Flex Arc Wireless Earbuds + Speakers
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app