It’s been a trying year for Apple as the brand continues to shape its post-Jobs identity and competitors become increasingly tenacious, emboldened by a marketplace no longer totally mesmerized by Apple’s spell.
Despite the cynicism the public feels about Apple’s incessant parade of product upgrades and disturbing news about its factory conditions in China, we still love one aspect of Apple’s brand: the retail stores. In fact, in 2012 Apple’s more than 400 stores attracted 120 million people. So the company plans to strengthen its brand by expanding its retail space: closing 20 stores that can no longer accommodate the growing crowds and opening 30 new stores across the globe, expanding the brand’s retail presence into 13 countries.
Clearly something profound is happening in Apple’s retail stores; something that extends beyond our attraction to digital devices, our obsession with the latest technology and our affinity for the knowledgeable customer service representatives that answer our questions. Apple retail stores are becoming part of our communities—like your local Starbucks, but without the requisite caffeine addiction.