The Hub Cool News

Apple 5th Avenue

Steve Jobs personally "ordered workers to replace the metal bolts holding together the glass panels that make up the cube over the company’s" new "subterranean store that sprawls beneath the plaza in front of the General Motors Building, just across from Central Park," reports Nick Wingfield in The Wall Street Journal. Explains Steve: "We spent a lot of time designing the store and it deserves to be build perfectly." And different — of course. The entrance of the latest Apple store — its 147th — "in keeping with Mr. Jobs’s penchant for eye-catching designs" recalls "I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid at the entrance of the Louvre museum in Paris … all that will be visible from the street is the entrance … surrounded by a roughly three-story-high glass cube jutting from the ground."

The store’s location is also killer, set as it is "in one of the most highly trafficked tourist and retail corridors in the world." Says analyst Charlie Wolf of Needham & Company: "It really is the center of gravity of Fifth Avenue." Charlie also fully expects the store to continue to fuel Apple’s retail juggernaut. "The numbers have been just astonishing in terms of the traditional retail numbers we look at," he says. Indeed: "Revenue from the Apple stores was $2.35 billion in fiscal 2005, ended Sept. 24, or 17 percent of Apple’s total sales, up from $621 million in fiscal 2003." Which is up from zero in 2001, when the first Apple stores opened. We wrote about that launch in Cool News exactly five years ago yesterday (read that story here), when the prevailing opinion among analysts was that Apple was about to be cored.

Never underestimate the power of really smart retail! These days, most analysts fall all over themselves to praise the wisdom of Apple’s retail strategy, which was developed "because other retailers weren’t doing an effective job of showcasing its Macintosh computers." It hired ex-Target exec Ron Johnson, who created the stores as "hip, visually memorable shopping destinations." There are the big ideas (like the genius bar, "where technical experts help customers fix problems") and the elegant ideas (like "using large open tables to display products, rather than cluttering them on store shelves.") "It’s not like a regular store," says William Mon, a devotee. Not so happy are Apple resellers, some of whom are suing Apple for unfair competition. "They’re killing us," says one such reseller. Around the clock, no less: This latest Apple store, 767 Fifth Avenue at 59th, will be open 24 hours, starting this Friday evening, at 6 p.m. ~ Tim Manners, editor