Globe and Mail Sees 'Secret Weapon' in Apple Stores' Geniuses

Writing for Canadais The Globe and Mail, Simon Avery anticipates that Appleis foray into the countryis retail business, which starts on Saturday with the opening of an Apple Store in Toronto, will hinge on a "secret weapon:" the employees who staff the storeis Genius Bar. Avery notes that the 100 Apple Stores in the U.S. all feature "simple, stylish and expansive" layouts with a Genius Bar "where specially trained staff provide answers and solve problems at no charge."

Avery notes that "the strategy has already proved to be a big success in the United States, where a higher level of customer service has helped drive sales through the stores. But it has also attracted the ire of resellers of Apple products, who now face a new form of competition and rely on commissioned sales staff who donit have the same amount of time to devote to questions and tips."

Canadian resellers are already nervous about Appleis new stores, according to Avery. He quotes one Toronto retailer who thinks his sales will fall almost 10% when the new Apple store opens while another thinks heill lose business on smaller products but will retain the customers who purchase Power Mac G5s and other big-ticket items.

Avery remarks that the possibility of stepping on its channel partnersi toes is Appleis biggest challenge in Canada. He writes: "The company will have to learn to balance the two lines of businesses, similar to how Sony Corp. has done with its stores, and that means not underselling vendors and not giving Apple stores a first-time advantage on new products."