The iPod Shuffle and Mac Mini continue to grab a great deal of ink in the mainstream press, see USA Today, as well as in the computer press, see PC World, with the discussion moving from the superiority of Apple technology to the effect Shuffle and Mac Mini will have on Apple's revenues.
A lot of the press reports cite Apple stores as the lynch pin for growing Mac sales and Apple's revenue. According to PC World, 16% of Apple revenue now comes out of their 100 plus Apple stores.
I've been to a number of Apple stores on the West Coast. They are indeed
spacious and beautifully designed. However, they make me uncomfortable.
The stores say to me, expensive, boutique prices. They are not like a Circuit City where you think, here's where I'm going to get a bargain.
On top of that you can't compare Apples with anything else in the store.
Obviously all they sell are Apple computers.
Yes, as MacWorld UKs Jonny Evans quotes one industry analyst, the stores are the holy places for the Apple faithful. But, I'm afraid the world of shoppers is a venal world where money, and spending less of it comes before religion.
In the long run, those stores that are generating nice profits for Apple will be detrimental to Apple's long range strategy of getting PC users to switch.
While many Apple users may believe it is okay if Apple cuts out for itself a nice comfortable niche in the market, it doesn't really work that way.
Like it or not they are competing for customers in a world of commodity products. Apple stores as they exist today and the exclusivity of a beautifully designed product is not enough.