NYT: Apple Stores Offering Endangered Face-to-Face Service

Calling free face-to-face support an "increasingly rare service", New York Times reporter Katie Hafner writes in Thursdayis edition of the Genius Bar concept inside Apple retail stores.

Ms. Hafner details how the concept has existed since the first store opened in McClean, Virginia in 2001 and how in-store specialists help customers with problems ranging from stuck DVDs to issues of syncing an iPod with a PowerBook.

Ron Johnson, Appleis senior vice president for retailing is quoted in the story as saying the Genius Bar is "the part of the store that people connect to emotionally more than any other."

Mirrored after similiar service he had seen at the Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton hotel chain, Mr. Johnson told the NYT that Apple was concerned in the beginning that Genius Bar staffers would be too geeky and lack the social skills to work with the public. "But he soon found that more often than not, the employees were well-socialized young people who happened to know a lot about computers," the article said.