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Apple Names Deirdre O’Brien Senior Vice President of Retail and People (apple.com)
111 points by coloneltcb 17 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 106 comments



This is likely a firing as Apple Retail has been practically treading water since Angela came on board. She failed to address the major issues with Apple's retail offering including:

- Failure to be a growth engine for the company. Originally Apple stores helped to drive growth of Apple and introduce new customers as the stores were rolled out across the US and then worldwide. Apple retail should have been the spearhead for greater China dominance and a strong foothold in India. Both have not occurred.

- Cultural issues. Apple retail has changed from being a pleasant experience where staff were encouraged to help customers with issues (not matter what) to merely parroting a company line about why they cannot do anything with your issue because that's the company policy. Angela also kept trotting out the 'town square' community BS as well which rubs non-US citizens completely the wrong way; a US corporation trying to co-opt foreign public space for their sales offering.

- Lack of support integration. Apple has had a number of high profile support issues and failures including battery gate and the MacBook keyboard issues. Instead of becoming a proactive support channel to help customers with these issues, Apple Retail worked as the company's PR firewall... exacerbating a bad situation for customers who experienced these problems. Support times at Apple Stores have increased and the experience has worsened.

- No innovation. Apple retail hasn't significantly changed or improved since Angela came on-board. 'Today at Apple' is a re-brand of the many sessions that Apple Stores have always had. The interior design changes and architectural changes are more Jony's doing than Angela's. In 5 years most of the change has been superficial with the core changes that have evolved actually degrading customers experience.

Glad to see the exec change. Took 5 years and should have happened earlier, but better late than never.


I'm not sure where your perceptions come from (such as if you've ever worked at an Apple Retail store) so I'm going to give you my perspective and only on a couple of your points because I can't speak to all of them.

I worked in Apple Retail under Ron Johnson and John Browett.

From what I recall, the original intent of these stores was to have them be "gathering places" for people -- similar to a town square. This concept's as old as the first of the stores.

During the ten months John Browett was in charge, the store I worked at saw significant attrition due to cut hours, an increased emphasis on offering more support than we had the resources for, and a very obvious push to attach multiple accessories onto each sale.

Those "Today at Apple" rebranding you're talking about? They were essentially gutted to quick, useless Q&A sessions when Browett worked there.

I really don't think Angela was a problem. If anything her hire was a breath of fresh air for them.


Whatever the original intentions, I can say honestly that an Apple Store in its current form is never a "gathering place" or a "town square".

The experience from beginning to end is always - line up at the front, talk to an Apple employee, depending on whether you have an appointment or not, get shepparded to a lineup (whether at the genius bar, the teach and learn table, or the repair pickup table, etc) and wait in line until your turn.

If you are just browsing / window shopping, the experience is jam yourself into a packed tiny space packed with human smells of sweat and farts, get a stern looking up and down by the security people, and try to get a computer/phone/idevice to look at. If you take too long, other people will either try to edge you out, or eventually you get an apple employee asking whether you want to buy it or if they can show you anything.

This is NOT a gathering place/town square. Of course. Being a commercially oriented sales space it can't be because that violates the purpose of the space. I'm not saying that you can't build a space like this, but the way Apple has structured the retail stores makes it extremely sales oriented.

Taking the Starbucks example quoted below. When you go to starbucks, get a latte, and sit down to browse your computer, you don't have Starbucks employees coming to you asking if you want a pumpkin spice latte or if you want some training on how to be a coffee barista in your own home too. You just want to take a seat and do whatever - none of the business of the store employees. It's just a place to sit. Of course, you should / need to buy something to sit there, but once you are there, you usually are left alone to do whatever, meet friends, have a date, etc. That's a good "gathering space" concept.


Your recounting of your experience is really far from mine. My local Apple Store (WTC in NYC) is very accessible and friendly. If anything, I find it mildly annoying to have to chit-chat with staff when I know what I want. With an appointment, support wait times are minimal and so far always helpful and friendly. I walk my dogs through the store sometimes, and even they love it!


My experiences at the Portland, Oregon Pioneer Place store are similar to GP. Come in the door, talk to an employee (sometimes there is a line, sometimes not), get shepherded over to another line and wait for a lot longer to see another employee, and then either wait a long time to get what you came for, if it's that easy, or they sit you down somewhere to wait until someone can really deal with you.

I don't go unless I have at least an hour of spare time and whatever I need can only reasonably be accomplished at the Apple Store. The place is a zoo, even if you're just browsing it's elbow to elbow.

The employees are nice, but I am aghast every time I go at how poor of an experience it is compared to what I think Apple should be capable of. Luckily when they do finally get to me, I've always had the issue solved (usually a new device) but up until that final encounter I just feel like a number. The fact that I have to stand on a concrete floor the entire time makes me double grumpy because my old-man feet do not like it one bit.


Similar experience in Perth, Australia. Apple is vastly more popular in 2019 than they were in 2009, so the magical Apple experience of seeing someone immediately & getting a while-you-wait repair is gone [1]. Even the appointment system is just choosing a time when you're allowed to come into the store to wait for half an hour until someone is available. They really need more stores & more staff, but that would eat into Apple's profits.

The one difference I've had is that I'm not even getting my issues resolved anymore. (Full sob story is in my comment history.) I'm typing this on a Thinkpad X1 and gave up on Apple after 15 years.

[1] Does anyone else remember when Apple would give you a coffee voucher for a local cafe while you were waiting, and send you a txt message to come back to the store once your MacBook Pro was fixed or replaced? They used to be magical, and they could afford to do all that because the machines were built for life & repairs were rare. That's all gone now.


There are now 900M iPhone users and 100M Mac users and 200M iPad users, while some may be overlap, there is give or take 1 Billion users Apple potentially serve. And yet they still only have 500 Stores, with more than half of them in US. So in terms of users and Store distribution US has a much better Ratio, and hence the favourable experience in the two previous reply, coming from US.

A long time ago ( I think it was 2015 ) I had expected Apple to reach 1000 Apple Store Worldwide by 2020. But just like every part of their infrastructure, ( CDN, Datacentre, Solar Energy, Recycling etc ) their "Asset-Light" strategy, being extremely conservative with any Asset has hold them back.


There are no seats in the stores near me. (or you have stools at specific benches that you need to give up when the apple employee tells you to). No place to have some small table space for yourself temporarily, if you have a jacket (often times wet from coming in from outside in the rain or snow, etc), there's no place to hang it. No use of washrooms. If you have a whole family of 4-5 who want to come by to learn how to use a computer, can you accommodate that? Or do you need to "book" the lesson table, make an appt with the genius bar etc. Is it only accessible for single people or couples with money?

Just those questions alone - think about what a gathering place is supposed to be! I think people are getting way too hoodwinked by marketing speak and are forgetting how an actual gathering space might function.

As a sales space, it's designed brilliantly. People come in, they see stuff they like, they want to buy it, pay money, sale done, time to go. That is perfected by the Apple store environment, but it is very much NOT a gathering space


I've always thought the sales experience was kinda crappy. I look around, decide I want to buy something, and then I hunt down an employee. Usually they're chatting with someone else so I wait until I can get their attention. Then, as long as it's just an accessory, I can buy it from them and leave. But if it's an iPhone, there's a whole process. I once managed to talk my way out of the store with a shrinkwrapped phone by insisting I actually was totally competent to set it up myself, but I almost had to beg.

I would find it a lot easier if they segregated the sales associates into two distinct group. One spot if all you want to do is buy and run, and another if you want the interactive experience. Then again, I'm a self-checkout kinda guy and I'd be even happier with some version of that.


Apple is honestly the worst store experience for going in and just buying something. It's crazy.


There used to be a Quick Checkout counter, now it is gone in some of the stores. ( At least not clearly labeled if they were still there )


In the UK, at least, you can serve yourself with the app - pick up your item, scan the barcode, pay with Apple Pay, and you're done. Might have to show the on-phone receipt to the door people too but I've only been asked once. Maybe this is why the Quick Checkout counter has gone?

https://www.howtogeek.com/338754/how-to-buy-stuff-at-the-app...


Your idea of a town square is very foreign to me. I guess it’s a cultural divide, but I don’t think of a town square as a place to hang jackets and go to the toilet! More like killing time or people-watching while waiting to meet someone. You’re describing something like the highway rest areas I’ve visited in Japan.


Usually town squares also have facilities or hookups for preparing meals (whether indoors like a prep kitchen or outdoors like a fixed bbq pit or a stone pizza oven, or at least electrical and water hookups for portable setups). An outdoors town square might have a gazebo, or a tent covered area for gathering, space to keep jackets, a place to relieve yourself during your activity (ie if it's outdoors, portapotties, or outhouse/out-building or if indoors publicly accessible washrooms)

A place where community can gather for the purpose of talking/communing with one another, in a town square fashion. Protection from elements during the activity, etc.

That's where I'm coming from.

http://www.tresbohemes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/12east... (european example)

https://www.terrain.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Innovatio... (north american style, with public seating, a semicovered event platform, often times an underground parking garage with access to public washroom)

My posts above were pertaining to indoors gathering spaces (hence the seats, hanging coats, etc) but either way, Apple stores do NOT resemble outdoors towns squares at all as well.


Interesting. I haven’t spent enough time in Europe to encounter these yet. It sounds very nice!


What OP describes is pretty common in the PNW, town squares or neighborhood squares will have a number of different seating areas, restrooms, hookups so you can have a food vendor or three without stringing electric cabling and water pipes everywhere, etc.

In SoCal, some towns like Oceanside have a very vibrant street fair that is very enjoyable.


FWIW, I grew up with such things in rural New England and the park an eighth of a mile of a subway stop here in Boston provides a similar value. I don't think this is just a European phenomenon--more of one where there is currently, or was recently, a sense of real community.


My local Apple Store has seen an increase in both mildly annoyed customers and delighted canines over time.


My experience in several German Apple stores is just like what barkingcat is recounting.


The town square “gathering places” notion isn’t a bad concept to have for a retail operation to adopt for their internal vision.

It’s fine and really just a rip-off of Starbuck’s “third place” (which was around long before Apple used it for their retail vision).

While Apple Retail was headed by Angela however she was involved in preposterous keynote speeches about how it’s making cities better and supporting the community. It was corporate BS writ large and used as a justification for pushing large retail stores into state significant public spaces.

It’s not a town square when it’s owned and controlled by a corporation who decides what does and doesn’t occur within its boundaries.


Browett was a catastrophically poor choice. I was impressed that Apple corrected the situation relatively quickly.

I think Ahrendts was a great hire, and while I don’t think Apple Retail is as good as it could be, it’s also a very hard nut to crack at their scale.


Is it? The problem is scaling at the stores, both in support and sales, and that they can't really keep up.

There are some fairly obvious ways to tackle both of those issues that have been ignored - god forbid Apple lowered themselves to have an actual sales counter that could churn through customers who know what they want rapidly. Triage and management of support cases seems to need desperate reform (it's still great that Apple gave me a whole new Macbook last week. It's bad that it took two weeks with a dead machine before they could see me and that product reliability is going downhill so fast that this is the third time that Macbook has fried itself in two years).


I still don’t understand how anyone at Apple senior management expected anything different from Browett.


I still find that appointment almost hilarious. Dixons who he used to oversee in the UK had an appalling reputation for terrible support and very aggressive sales reps trying to sell useless accessories and extended warranties. I wonder if any Apple exec ever visited one of his old stores?


I wonder if anyone in the group of decision makers for the hire ever saw the cringey Currys Fives training video on Youtube


The first 5-10 years of Apple Retail were like the movie Empire Records... help the customer and have a fucking blast doing it. Rules? Not really. I worked there for almost 2 years and had a lot of fun solving unique consumer tech problems one on one with the customers. It was a very personal experience, customers knew our names, came back sometimes just to chat or bring us baked goods... maybe we’d go have a few beers on lunch break, smoke a little weed. Now when I walk into an Apple Store it feels like Best Buy.


I'm not sure how you prevent this from happening when the goal is to grow, though. If anything... it worked.


I think one strategy is to question the goal of perpetual growth.


Strategy for whom? Not anyone in charge of Apple Retail, surely... sounds more like a policy question for government and society that undoes the foundation of our markets and most of capitalism.


Nothing about a capitalist market necessitates what the GP described. It is a question of ethics; you could instead treat it as a governmental policy question, but if you need law to codify ethics you've already gone off the road and you're just waiting to hit the ground.

Which we have.

"A question for society"? Apple's part of society, man.


How many Italian restaurants where you live have expanded into making and selling their own pasta and sauce at retail? If we're talking about the foundation of most of capitalism, surely it would be exhibited there more often than "never."


FWIW I was an Apple store employee (specialist) and your assessment resonates very well with me.

I think the reason for the poor experience comes down to scale. Apple is too big now. There are just too many people. I remember when you used to be able to walk into the Genius Bar totally unannounced and you could usually get help in just a few minutes. Now you need to schedule your appointments a week in advance and you’ll only get an obscure 10:40am time slot.

Apple retail was an experience when the customer base was smaller but the iPhone completely changed that. I don’t think retail can scale that big and offer the same experience. If anything stores need to be more plentiful and smaller.


you’ve not substantiated any of those criticisms, and frankly they’re so general in nature that they’d apply to practically any executive departure to some degree, so they lack insight.

what she did was increase sales per square foot by over 20% [0], expanded the retail footprint globally, and made the store experience more coherent/consistent. not too shabby but also not what she was hired to do.

her problem was that she was tasked with the very difficult goal of turning apple retail into a luxury experience akin to burberry and turn apple watch into a must-have fashion accessory. she was to lay the groundwork for apple’s thrust into wearables, but she had very little control over the product (ascetic watch bands and ear tampons... i kid, i love my airpods) and no control over strategy or logistics. unlike burberry, where change cycles with the seasons, apple cycles over many years. you just don’t have enough control and urgency to make the changes apple wanted. honestly, i don’t think anyone could have accomplished that goal.

[0] https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-apple-a...


> her problem was that she was tasked with the very difficult goal of turning apple retail into a luxury experience akin to burberry and turn apple watch into a must-have fashion accessory. she was to lay the groundwork for apple’s thrust into wearables, but she had very little control over the product

And how, exactly, do you know that was what she waas tasked with? That sounds a lot like expectations that an outsider might have placed on her based on a quick glance at her bio, but you have no idea what her tactical and strategic objectives were.


Biggest issue I’ve seen was the change of sending retail employees out for training at the mothership to doing it at the stores. That’s a huge cultural shift and a horrible horrible horrible idea.


What's wrong with doing training in Apple Park? ( I am guessing Mothership referring to Apple Park )


10 years ago when I first bought a Macintosh, the apple Store was a warm and inviting place. I could ask questions at the Genius Bar, I could talk to people who showed at least somewhat of an interest in me as a customer. Now it just seems very sterile and vacant, big open spaces but not very inviting.


I'm 100% with you on this. My experience at Apple stores is where the veneer of "Apple" disappears. It's a mess. Hurded into likes. Having to wait 10-15-20 mins just to buy something I need zero help for. Watching how their sales systems, repair systems and apple.com are not remotely integrated so everything has to be entered in triplicate. Objectively bad support but with the name "Apple" applied everyone seems to give it pass.


> Watching how their sales systems, repair systems and apple.com are not remotely integrated so everything has to be entered in triplicate

That is entirely the opposite of any experience I've had in an Apple store - they seem to have all the info they need (including my email address and card on file) at their fingertips - no re-entry or messing around.


> Apple Retail has been practically treading water since Angela came on board

It is my understanding that Apple stores have higher revenue per square foot than any other store in the entire history of retail, which is difficult to reconcile with your statement.


Which they’ve had since before Angela came on-board and will continue to have long after she has left.


Income per sq/ft is up 20% since 2013, so no - it's not the same thing.

[1]https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-apple-a...


The cultural change is the difference between "Let's be awesome, shift units, and make money!" to "Let's shift units and make money!"

That's not a very inspiring vision.

The emphasis on retail-is-the-customer-experience as opposed to customer-experience-defines-retail is only going to cause more and more problems.

TBH I expect the next few years to be something of a meltdown for sales+service, with retail following along for the ride.


FWIW, I don't think retail is a growth engine for any company in 2019. The Internet happened.


The first Apple Stores were in 2001. Online commerce was already a thing.


I don’t know about you but I certainly couldn’t get almost anything I needed, living in bum fuck nowhere, the same day I ordered it in 2001.

If we define online commerce as its 2019 current incarnation, I’d argue that in 2001 it wasn’t a thing.


To this day there still aren't Apple stores in "bum fuck nowhere". So not sure where you're going with the argument.


Same day is still rare, I'd argue. Walmart started online sales in 2000. Newegg came to be in 2001. Zappos existed since 1999. Amazon 1-click was also patented in 1999. Yes, you didn't have Shopify spawning an uncountable number of small stores, you didn't have Amazon Fresh or Instacart.


Right, so you agree with me. Retail is not a growth engine in 2019.


> No innovation. Apple retail hasn't significantly changed or improved since Angela came on-board. 'Today at Apple' is a re-brand of the many sessions that Apple Stores have always had. The interior design changes and architectural changes are more Jony's doing than Angela's. In 5 years most of the change has been superficial with the core changes that have evolved actually degrading customers experience.

The first sentence is correct, as I see it, but I think it's a general Apple problem and not something the stores have much to do with. If you've been given subpar products over the last several years to sell, you're still selling subpar products no matter how you dress it up. The public knows Apple hardware isn't nearly as reliable as it used to be and suffer from a wide range of problems across all of their product lines, well the major product lines. After continuing for several years, it's catching up. There isn't anything the stores can do. It's up to corporate to mandate better quality control and build quality. What they've been providing is not acceptable for many. They're losing the most die hard apple fans. Even they get tired of having to waste so much time and money and Apple is becoming harder for them to defend. You can forgive for a year, or a few years maybe, but after that it appears to be a systemic problem that no one at the top is taking serious enough. The brand is tarnished. Go back to basics.

> Apple has had a number of high profile support issues and failures including battery gate and the MacBook keyboard issues. Instead of becoming a proactive support channel to help customers with these issues, Apple Retail worked as the company's PR firewall... exacerbating a bad situation for customers who experienced these problems. Support times at Apple Stores have increased and the experience has worsened.

That is also top-down. If Apple (corporate) fights hard against people and claims there are no issues with their hardware and won't cover things like the spotlight problem new displays are having (a design flaw), or keyboards that don't work if they get dust in them (a design flaw), or the phone bends in a pocket under normal use (a design flaw), until the news gets so bad and class action lawsuits have to get filed to provide extended warranties, then I'm not sure what the store can actually do about it except put lipstick on a pig, offer an apology, and commiserate with the customers frustration.

My mother is a professional photographer. She has always been a die hard apple fan, because they made solid computers and a seamless OS. She has multiple iPads, an iPhone, iMac, Macbook Air and Macbook Pro. She does a lot of traveling. For over 10 years, she had 0 issues, except for normal wear and tear items. The last 3 years, she has been to the Apple store over 15 times, with multiple issues and hardware failures. Weeks without hardware as it had to be sent in to be repaired. Her whole life has been tied up in Apple and she loved them. Absolutely loved them. It all used to just work. They were reliable. She called me last weekend to ask what I thought about the Surface Pros and if I'd go look at some with her. I was shocked. She was steaming, she has had enough. Apple has lost her as a customer for life. There is no way she will ever try them again, no matter what they do.

They can do whatever they want with the Apple store. It won't do anything. The problem is the products they are selling don't work as well as they used to, for many people. People who buy Apple are buying into the premise it will "just work" and is "quality, premium hardware." That is the reputation their brand is built on, and what they are no longer living up to.


"The problem is the products they are selling don't work as well as they used to, for many people. "

And prices are relatively high, and fundamental new innovation is down.

So tripartite of problems.


Just last week on January 28th Vogue Business ran a huge feature on Angela Ahrendts with an exclusive interview and photo shoot, and now this? Seems like weird timing with how "work in progress" Vogue characterized her work at Apple with the tone of the piece. https://www.voguebusiness.com/companies/angela-ahrendts-appl...

"After turning round the fortunes of Burberry, Angela Ahrendts is five years into reimagining Apple’s bricks-and-mortar presence. Vogue Business meets the tech behemoth's senior vice president of retail on the steps of its soon-to-be-unveiled Washington, DC, flagship"


Depends on whether Apple PR organized that profile of her or whether she did herself. If she was planning on leaving she'd want to go out with her accomplishments highlighted.


I don't think there's any way a magazine would profile a senior Apple exec without Apple PR being deeply involved.


I'm sure there is, but they'd be asked to leave Apple shortly after.


She's ex fashion biz and worked at super high profile brand of course she can get an interview in Vogue.

Might well help vogue later on


I'd imagine the interview was organised by Apple PR, but the decision to fire her was being discussed & made shortly after (because Apple PR wouldn't know of or be involved in a decision that big regardless).


Or quite simply deciding she wasn't good in her current role doesn't mean Apple want to burn her career to the ground. This sort of PR piece could easily have been a helping hand to find her her next job.


It probably has more to do with Apple getting bigger than anything else. But been increasingly disappointed with the general level of product knowledge amongst Apple employees over the past ~2-3 years.

Undeniably must be difficult as you grow and have so many stores, etc. But on my last Apple store trip, I had interactions with 2 employees. One incorrectly told me that there was no Smart Battery case in stock for the XR (it was available on the Apple Store app?). And another made a mistake about the length of power cable that shipped with the new MacBook Air. Kinda a bummer.


I think there's been a shift in focus in the retail segment to hiring employees who are better at interacting with customers rather than actual "geniuses".


This has not been a shift, or at least recently. I started working there in 2012 and the focus was always on hiring people that can actually interact with humans, rather than nerds that know everything.

Its much easier to teach product knowledge than team interaction skills.


Yes, this has always been a focus obviously, but now I feel you're getting fewer of the people who can tell you exactly what's wrong with your Mac/iPhone and instead getting people who tell customers that they should close all their iOS apps when they're done with them to "clear the RAM" (this was the Genius helping the person next to me last time I went there). I'm not a retail employee, but from my conversations with them there's less technical training.


If Apple wanted to staff their stores with early 2000s Apple Store Geniuses, they'd have like 100 stores worldwide.

Apple has way more customers, way more stores, and way more products for that to be realistic.


Yeah, this seems to be the unfortunate reality of the situation :(


> close all their iOS apps when they're done with them to "clear the RAM"

Last time I checked this is technically correct.

The point was that it is often unnecessary as Apple terminates apps in the background. But they will usually leave a few of the most recent ones active.


> Last time I checked this is technically correct.

It's correct, but manually managing the RAM rather than letting the OS deal with it is almost always a bad idea. iOS will kill apps when necessary, and by killing apps you're requiring them to be relaunched when you try to use them.


I don't expect "geniuses" at a store help desk. But (anecdote alert) I have found Apple Store employees to be far better techs, in terms of both technical knowledge and people skills/professionalism, than the retail norm.

I would be far more focused on consistent, professional customer interactions than on random and hard-to-replicate insights into a problem. (Though, of course, diagnosing uncommon problems accurately is part of being a good tech as well.)


I also wanted to purchase an external battery for my 2018 macbook pro and was suggested an item that had only half of the power needed for the MB pro, when I pointed it out, the "genius" did not say anything.


A couple of years ago now, I ordered a replacement battery through Apple for an older plastic MacBook - the user replaceable ones, where you use a coin to unlock the switch and lift it out. When I went to collect it, the Apple Store geniuses refused to give it to me unless I brought in my laptop and let them keep it for a week to do the replacement, as they were convinced no Macs have user replaceable batteries. (I declined & bought a battery through an Apple authorised service center instead, for cheaper than Apple was charging.)

For those who don't remember, here's Apple's user manual for customer to replace laptop batteries themselves (PDF):

https://manuals.info.apple.com/MANUALS/0/MA159/en_US/MacBook...


Not sure what you mean about stock availability.

The Apple Store app doesn't show you what stock is available in each store. It shows what is available from Apple itself.


When you're physically in the store, the Apple Store app does tell you whether specific products are in stock. If I recall correctly, there's even a way to request that someone brings you the item to a physical spot in the store so you can buy it.


The subtitle is the real story: "Angela Ahrendts Plans April Departure After Five Successful Years"


A more interesting subtitle would note that Angela Ahrendts got about 75 million to join, and that's all vested, so bye bye.


Yep. 5 years as an executive seems short to me, and it seems like she was only just getting her agenda fully implemented. Given that she just did this [0] interview too, I wonder if there’s something happening behind the scenes.

[0] https://www.voguebusiness.com/companies/angela-ahrendts-appl...


Speaking with some people on the Retail team, I got the impression that they weren't particularly happy with the changes that Ahrendts had instituted in the last couple of years.


Ahrendt's tenure coincided with a sever degradation in the quality of service levels at the Genius Bar, and no amount of bling Hermès Apple Watch straps can make up for that.


I don't think that's true; I think it's more accurate that she didn't do the right things to fix the problems created by her predecessor, John Browett. In a mere six months he instituted layoffs across the entire retail operation and alienated virtually everyone -- and while Apple seems to have fairly quickly recognized the damage, I don't think they've done what they needed to repair it. Ahrendts had a vision of Apple Stores as some kind of town square gathering space, and... what? I mean, if they want to put an espresso bar in a few flagship locations or something, that'd be fine. But we go to Apple Stores for specific reasons, namely, to buy Apple products, to buy accessories, or to get help with our Apple products. Ironically, I suspect a relentless focus on that would do a better job in fostering a sense of community, e.g., "we are mostly all here as happy Apple customers"; that's what the stores at least had an undercurrent of in the late 2000s.


Since we're in anecdote territory, I learned that screen de-lamination issues that occurred on some ~2015 MacBook Pros were being covered under an extended warranty. Took mine in (which had some screen issues). The Genius Bar guy took one look at it. Said yep "Haven't seen quite that interesting a pattern." Asked me if I had things backed up. Apologized for the fact they have to replace the whole display including my stickers on the back. And took care of everything at no charge.

I'm sure it was all within policy but how many companies would try to put up at least a half-hearted fight?


Had a 2011 MBP with an open recall for an AMD graphics card issue. Took mine in, opened it up, and the genius said yup it’s a graphics card issue. Just need to run this test to get your refund.

5 tries and an hour later the computer crashed during each test. Came back 3 separate days talked to everyone I could and the computer couldn’t complete the test. Sorry you can’t get recall if the test isn’t run rule are rules.

Haven’t bought a MBP since because the new prices are insane. I’m not risking a $2.5k-3k laptop dying in a few years, or having keyboard issues, or the display-gate issue. Everything is glued in nowadays you can’t even replace simple parts.


That's very strange to me, in that my experience was literally the reverse of that. I thought it was an Nvidia GPU issue, but perhaps it was a separate recall. In any case, the Genius took my MBP to the back of the store and came back a few minutes later to say that he tried to run the test twice and the MBP kernel panicked each time, so he was calling that a confirmation of the bad GPU.


I guess it depends. I've always had a really bad experience with Apple Stores in my country. Every problem I've had they'd brush it off or wanted to make me pay so much it would have been more cost effective to buy a new device.


Agree, have had so many frustrating experiences lately. Recently my phone was water damaged, so I went to the Singapore Apple Store and was told there aren't any genius bar appointments available for a week, and that's as far as you can schedule out. I said OK, no problem, I'll buy another until I can get an appointment and then return the new one once mine is replaced under Apple Care. I was waiting about 40 minutes to buy an iPhone and then the sales specialist noted that I could, in fact, probably wait for a cancelation and have my phone serviced. I waited upstairs working on their (fairly good!) wifi for about 1.5 hours and then when I saw a Genius who confirmed my phone is indeed toast. The Genius then explained they don't have any phones in stock in my color, can only do a like-for-like replacements and it'd take 48 hours for it to come in stock (why can't this be identified ahead of time?).. so then I waited another 30mins to buy a phone and returned it 48 hours later. Similarly, replacing a damaged or lost AirPod is way too difficult. IMO, it shouldn't require a "Genius", especially in the latter case

(I'd also love to be able to just order a replacement piece online)


I took in my iPhone 6 with a black screen. Was told it failed the current test and was a motherboard issue and was offered a replacement for $329. Took it to a independent shop down the street and they opened it and connected the disconnected charging port inside and replaced a missing plate probably left from a third party button repair. $30. Flagrantly lied to.


To be fair when I press on it in a certain place it black screens and resets perhaps because of preexisting water damage but to not even open it up and lie to me is malpractice.


The Genius Bar is beyond a joke these days.

I went in a month ago and they quoted me >$1100 for repairs for a broken K key (the device was under warranty, and I had AppleCare+ - another $500 on top of the device cost) and I threw a fit because I felt it was absolutely ridiculous that a $4650 computer could "reasonably" lose function entirely within a half year due to a faulty butterfly key mechanism (within a YEAR!) and the guy said (no joke, brace yourselves) "I'm now terminating this interaction." He seriously said that after I responded to his initial cost estimate with absolute dejected disgust. Naturally, I felt compelled to respond with "Ok T-9000 kindly relay to SkyNet that I'm interested in communicating further with the grid." They literally prey on people that don't know better and try to extract as much money as possible unless you aggressively respond. If people knew better, they wouldn't be able to get away with this kind of behavior. It's disgusting. Eventually I was able to explain that I will literally never buy another Apple product again unless they completely fix the upper case or whatever the current terminology is for free. I was very vocal and unforgiving about how bad the design of the upper case is. What's hilarious is they actually started a keyboard replacement program for all models BEFORE 2017, even though after 2017 is when they took the butterfly keyboard model a step further. It's insane. Literally gaslighting with regard to what they are trying to "solve."

I got lucky - I got the issue fixed for free. It's sad that I have to fight to get decent repair service on a product that cost a small fortune, on top of a $500 repair warranty (that doesn't protect against water damage).

Either way I'm probably never buying an Apple product again. They are a shadow of their former self, and while Apple shareholders are probably collectively pissing themselves watching daily gains, they are moving to this cloud services model that I feel will eventually fail to catch on. It's just so expensive when you compare alternatives. Probably will take around a half decade or so, but eventually it will be felt. And if they can't move toward "larger plays" like autonomous vehicles (also certainly oriented as a service based model), the cloud pure play won't exist forever. It's just too expensive for the every day citizen.


> I'm now terminating this interaction.

Reading what you said to them I am surprised Security didn't throw you out.


Me too! Thankfully speaking and voicing my opinion isn't verboten yet!


Apple Care+ does protect against liquid damage. It's $300 for an accidental damage incident, whether it be water damage or you drop it off a bridge.

Also Apple Care+ is $379 in the US, not $500.


This sounds like an abrupt and possibly unexpected departure of Angela Ahrendts (whether voluntary or forced), since Apple is assigning one additional division to Deirdre O’Brien. It’s not that she (Deirdre O’Brien) would be incapable of leading both people and retail, but Apple looks like a company that needs more focused attention on products, services and retail.

Could it be that Apple is searching for someone to head retail and that this is just an interim appointment?


I recently visited an Apple Store in University Village (Seattle) and I was impressed with how large the space was. I kept walking around the entire store looking for their laptop displays thinking maybe they had removed it.

Alas, I found the MacBooks at the far back corner of the store with no one around it, and they only had one table dedicated to the MacBook with only 1 laptop per model.


Heh, I was recently in that same Apple Store for a repair and was left with a contradictory impression of it being empty yet crowded at the same time. It's certainly a big space but, at least when I went, it was pretty crowded anywhere there was seating. It was strange and not particularly pleasant.


And there’s huge open spaces too! Why not, I dunno, put out another table of computers? There is exactly one Mac mini on display in that entire store. God help you if some kid’s too busy screwing around on YouTube to let you actually shop.


I saw some speculation a few years ago that Ahrendts might be groomed to take over as CEO someday. I suppose that’s rather less likely now.


Jeff Williams is the most likely candidate for the CEO job after Tim Cook IMHO.


I think that is the reason she left. She is not getting the CEO job.


I don't see what the issues is, specifically. I've been to the store for service a few times, it was very professional.

Everything seems generally well run.

What's the fuss?

Apple Retail needs to be executed well, and it's a strategic pillar, but really in the end the stores in and of themselves are not going to be the story.

I wonder what the real issues are.

I wonder how involved she was in pricing/promotional aspects, because her strategic imperative on pricing may be a source of the problem.

Apple is getting a little expensive for it's britches and they have a great brand, but this is not Burberry, it's tech, so utility factors in strongly. If she was behind the expensive mac story ... then maybe. But somehow I doubt it.

I wonder what the real story is ...


My personal experience at an apple store in the pseudo tech hub that is the Domain Austin left a poor taste in my mouth. I went there to pickup a laptop expecting a relatively painless and transparent experience and was left wishing I had gone anywhere else but there. A long hour long wait with no actually apology or contact after the initial checkin left me feeling rather annoyed at the whole apple experience for the first time in my life.


I don't even know what's going on with Apple Retail here in Japan. Rather than expanding, they've actually closed Apple Stores in two cities, leaving you with the absolutely terrible Authorized Repair Partners. Getting a MacBook Pro repaired here is a trial in patience, it's a really poor experience - if it wasn't for macOS I would have no reason to buy Apple in 2019.


The Stores were way too small, the new Apple Retail Strategy is to have bigger Stores rather than small ones. The problem is they are closing them faster than then could plan and open one.


Wasn’t one of them in Sapporo?


Maybe the Apple Store will be redesigned so it's actually responsive and works on mobile.


As an aside, I find it amusing the share icons on the images don't render correctly in Safari (there's just a black bar at the button) but do in Chrome.


they render fine in Safari : maybe transient CDN glitch?


Huh, strange, they're showing up now. You might be right about the CDN glitch.


The new iPhones are not that good, too expensive and lot of software issues. Can't really blame retail for that for selling $1000 device.


They've managed selling $1000 devices that many found of questionable value for a lot longer than Ahrendts' reign, so this argument doesn't quite hold. Meanwhile, the competition manages the exact same feat, so your comment feels like more of a swipe at Apple's products rather than a discussion of the actual intrigue of O'Brien's sudden appointment.




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