Steve Jobs originally envisioned Apple Stores as targeting creative professionals

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014


Former Apple retail head Ron Johnson convinced the late Steve Jobs to abandon a plan to focus the company's retail business on creative professionals and instead cater to all types of customers.



Even before he had started work at Apple, Johnson was making changes at the company. According to a profile on the executive by Fortune, Jobs told Johnson during a recruiting meeting that he wanted Apple's retail stores to be for creative professionals.



"I said, 'Well, then I'm not coming. If you want to be a store for all Americans, sign me up,'" Johnson recounted in an interview with the publication.



Johnson made a name for himself at Target during the 1990s before being wooed to Apple. Working directly with Jobs, he crafted Apple's retail division into the world's most profitable retailer. Apple Stores average $6,000 in revenue per square foot, compared to $156 at J.C. Penney.



Although Jobs has received a lot of the credit for Apple's retail successes, Johnson played a pivotal behind-the-scenes role at the company.





Ron Johnson and Steve Jobs at Fifth Avenue store opening.







"The reason it worked was Ron," said Michael Kramer, who previously served as Apple Retail's CFO and now works with Johnson as Penney's COO. "Even in the face of bad numbers or challenges, he was always inspiring you."



According to the report, Johnson approached Jobs in September 2000 about the entire approach to Apple's retail stores.



"I think we've got it wrong," he said. "The stores are fundamentally flawed." Johnson argued that the stores shouldn't be organized around individual products and should instead incorporate Apple's idea for a 'digital hub.'



Jobs reacted strongly at first. After all, ground had already been broken on the first location in McLean, Va. "Do you realize how much time I put into designing this store?" he said. After a pause, he conceded, "You might be right, but don't talk about it to the team today."



According to Johnson, Jobs subsequently walked into a team meeting and said, "Ron thinks this store is all wrong, and he's right. We're going to start over.'"



Johnson revealed late last year that he had "reimagined everything" when creating Apple's retail stores. "You have to create a store that's more than a store to people," he said. "People come to the Apple Store for the experience — and they're willing to pay a premium for that."



After more than 10 years at Apple, Johnson announced last June that he was leaving to become CEO at J.C. Penney, thereby fulfilling a lifelong dream of running a retail company. Jobs reportedly responded to the news by disparaging the retailer as "a B- or C company with B- people." At Jobs' behest, Johnson agreed to stay on at Apple until November.



Once at J.C. Penney, Johnson quickly assembled a team of former Apple executives around him at J.C. Penney. In January, he unveiled his plan for the 110-year-old retailer with a full page ad in The Wall Street Journal that proclaimed a goal of becoming consumers' "favorite store."











Johnson turned out to be a tough executive to replace, as Apple spent months searching for his replacement. The company eventually hired John Browett, the CEO at European technology retailer Dixons, as its new head of retail.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

«13

Comments

  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    As great as Jobs vision was he had a lot of flawed ideas. His original name for the iMac sticks out. At least he knew when a better idea was being presented. I'd say that not not only makes him intelligent, but wise.
  • umrk_labumrk_lab Posts: 550member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    As great as Jobs vision was he had a lot of flawed ideas. His original name for the iMac sticks out. At least he knew when a better idea was being presented. I'd say that not not only makes him intelligent, but wise.





    Yes, whatever the cost .. (start all over again ...). Impossible in a "normal" company ...
  • jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,269member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    According to the report, Johnson approached Jobs in September 2000 about the entire approach to Apple's retail stores. "I think we've got it wrong," he said. "The stores are fundamentally flawed." Johnson argued that the stores shouldn't be organized around individual products and should instead incorporate Apple's idea for a 'digital hub.'



    But aren't Apple stores currently organized around individual products? Macs, iPhones, iPods, iPads & accessories are all in their own sections of each Apple Store. Sounds like Steve's original vision is what we have today, unless I am missing something.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post


    But aren't Apple stores currently organized around individual products? Macs, iPhones, iPods, iPads & accessories are all in their own sections of each Apple Store. Sounds like Steve's original vision is what we have today, unless I am missing something.



    For the most part they are organized into their respective categories but they all share tables without there being physical sections for each product or product type. If you consider PC and Mac setups in stores prior to the Apple Stores the design was much more restricting and not a good experience. Now I can find stores with PCs on tables instead of on shelves.
  • macstartermacstarter Posts: 1member
    The point of surrounding yourself with the best of the best is that they should and will challenge you. Unless your colleague, co-worker, subordinate or manager can challenge your ideas, you won't push yourself. I think that's the point of surrounding yourself with A people - they won't settle for bad ideas. Think about all the tech companies losing their market value at the moment - a few more Steve Job's type decisions in board-rooms could well have saved them from the plight they are now facing...
  • mike fixmike fix Posts: 214member
    It's truly unfortunate Apple now hates creative professionals these days, the people that stayed with the company when it was on the brink. The people that repeatedly showcase Apple products in movies and television, the people that show off their products on stage...



    Now Apple turns it's back.



    Creative professionals need an upgraded workstation, the processors are now available! We need matte screens! We need an OS that retains compatibility with our software!!!!
  • lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macstarter View Post


    The point of surrounding yourself with the best of the best is that they should and will challenge you. Unless your colleague, co-worker, subordinate or manager can challenge your ideas, you won't push yourself. I think that's the point of surrounding yourself with A people - they won't settle for bad ideas. Think about all the tech companies losing their market value at the moment - a few more Steve Job's type decisions in board-rooms could well have saved them from the plight they are now facing...



    Actually, investors kill companies. Look at HP.



    It goes this way: investors invest in ideas and men, sometimes it makes huge money and you get a big company. Then investors grow cautious because now there is big money involved and they won't let "Steve Jobs-types" do whatever they want and "risk the company every year". The company "freezes" and over time you get HP.
  • mikeb85mikeb85 Posts: 506member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lightknight View Post


    Actually, investors kill companies. Look at HP.



    It goes this way: investors invest in ideas and men, sometimes it makes huge money and you get a big company. Then investors grow cautious because now there is big money involved and they won't let "Steve Jobs-types" do whatever they want and "risk the company every year". The company "freezes" and over time you get HP.



    HP is a special case. They`ve always had a conservative corporate culture (and un-focused business plan), things just started to go sideways for them when they couldn`t decide if they wanted to be like Apple or IBM. But even then, they still did 127 billion in revenue in 2011 (more than Apple).
  • adamcadamc Posts: 493member
    Honestly Apple products are getting better for the time. Professionals don't have to buy very high end Macs to do their job except those in video production and even the much condemned FCPX is now better han ever and with third party support it can only get better.



    Look at the latest iPhoto, I have seen the death of Adobe and look at the latest app by Autodesk and I believe others will run ring around Illustrator. And all this can be done on the iPad and not a Mac.
  • jonparadisejonparadise Posts: 14member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Johnson turned out to be a tough executive to replace, as Apple spent months searching for his replacement. The company eventually hired John Browett, the CEO at European technology retailer Dixons, as its new head of retail.



    Oh God no, Dixons have to be one of the worst tech stores (in the UK at least) out there.
  • macky the mackymacky the macky Posts: 4,622member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mike Fix View Post


    It's truly unfortunate Apple now hates creative professionals these days, the people that stayed with the company when it was on the brink. The people that repeatedly showcase Apple products in movies and television, the people that show off their products on stage...



    Now Apple turns it's back.



    Creative professionals need an upgraded workstation, the processors are now available! We need matte screens! We need an OS that retains compatibility with our software!!!!



    Sorry Mike. I know what you're saying, but Moses had to listen to a lot of that peeing and moaning from the Israelites as he drug their sorry a**es across the desert to a land of milk and honey.



    Just don't take it personal. Apple doesn't hate you or other creative people. They have their hands full shipping tens of millions of products that sell to today's customers.



    Apple can't live in the past like you'd want, there's no future there.
  • povilaspovilas Posts: 473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post




    Apple can't live in the past like you'd want, there's no future there.



    The problem is they are not that smart to understand this simple truth.
  • mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 6,900member
    This is in the Biography. It's truly pathetic that you write a story on something that Ron Johnson addresses in the damn Biography; and no unlike the trumpeteers for Ron in this story, he doesn't take credit for it's creation and success as AI is alluding.



    The Apple Store does not exist without Steve and Ron--who came onboard to work with Steve's Apple Store vision, not the other way around. The epiphany came early morning of the day they planned to show it to the Board [and Ron was very open and honest to credit Steve for willing to scrap what they planned and quickly see the merits of Ron's idea and redesign before showing the store to the Board].
  • irelandireland Posts: 15,707member
    Easily Josh Ong's best written article.
  • myapplelovemyapplelove Posts: 1,515member
    It's disappointing to see so many apple figure heads having left the company in the last 2-3 years, I hope the new guys have some vision as well.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    As great as Jobs vision was he had a lot of flawed ideas. His original name for the iMac sticks out. At least he knew when a better idea was being presented. I'd say that not not only makes him intelligent, but wise.



    Everyone has a lot of flawed ideas, it's superfluous to point this out. One's major asset is always being intelligent enough to see when others' ideas are better and brave enough to accept that and disrupt what your company is doing wrong at that moment. Good call by the way on that ipad hd name...



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lightknight View Post


    Actually, investors kill companies. Look at HP.



    It goes this way: investors invest in ideas and men, sometimes it makes huge money and you get a big company. Then investors grow cautious because now there is big money involved and they won't let "Steve Jobs-types" do whatever they want and "risk the company every year". The company "freezes" and over time you get HP.



    Very well said.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post


    Sorry Mike. I know what you're saying, but Moses had to listen to a lot of that peeing and moaning from the Israelites as he drug their sorry a**es across the desert to a land of milk and honey.



    Just don't take it personal. Apple doesn't hate you or other creative people. They have their hands full shipping tens of millions of products that sell to today's customers.



    Apple can't live in the past like you'd want, there's no future there.



    What a load of horse manure. So Tim Cook is Moses? There's a very valid claim that apple are alienating a vast number of its creative user base and that they should be doing something about it, I have a few ideas on what they could be doing and I 've mentioned them here in the past. That's not living in the past, that's forging a vision for the future that does not simply entail selling boatloads but also shows care to maintain and foster apple's creative and disruptive core and the user base that goes along with this. Apple are, btw -lest anyone here still has any illusions, and I am sure a lot have- currently being enormously successful due to the planning, vision and decision making of Steve and some of the very talented people he surrounded himself with, BUT apple is also successful to the colossal LACK of vision, planning and foresight of its tech rivals. It's not only that apple was very good at what it did, it was also that others where incredibly stupid in seeing a larger picture and a way forward.



    The tech companies are full of people who are great in coding or hardware engineering away but not good at all in terms of seeing the larger picture, let alone aesthetics, and their ceo's are even worse. When you have Schmidt from google say a few years ago that a tablet with a mobile os is just a big phone, you realize immediately that this guy is an idiot when it comes to having any creative vision for computers and how people can use them, he just doesn't get it, he doesn't understand how holding a book like device next to your head (a movement so engrained in our daily life) with a touch interface that creates such a multitude of interaction possibilities will be a revolutionary product if done right hardware wise with an 100% possibility. Neither did Balmer get it. And of course forget the asians all together in terms of creative visions, samsung, ts ts ts...



    So essentially Steve (and co.) was not only being very wise and visionary in his product choices and planning, as well as in incorporating digital media (audio, video, books, music, podcasts, etc.) and forging a retail plan but he also had collosal morons mostly as competitors, or at least those that had comparable financial clout to compete with apple. They were repeatedly caught with their pants down and havent managed to forge a successful strategy for their companies since in so many respects.



    The fact that even amazon can, with their limited tech resources (albeit though with their content also it has to be said) carve a niche of 17% in the tablet market is a testament to how incredibly inept both microsoft and google have been. Both of who should and could have very easily a. bought up some hardware manufacturing segment and/or partnered close enough with one and b. polished their os's and digital markets and created a simple line of integrated effective tech products possibly not as ms or google, but by rebranding them with a brand name

    that could compete with apple on what apple had to offer (aesthetic soundness of products, integrated software and hardware systems and robust digital media content). If they wanted to really compete and they were not merely satisfied, one with their enormous search profits, and the other with their it business side.



    But that was the past, the future in unknown to everyone of us, apple could go on autopilot for 5 years shunning their creative user base, becoming the popular company everyone loves and selling tons to consumers (instead of prosumers or pros)... or their competitors could wise up, and bring something comparable to the table, and branded properly, and then apple having alienating their creative user base, and also being the company a lot of people love to hate could see a huge backlash against them. Who knows.
  • umrk_labumrk_lab Posts: 550member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    This is in the Biography. It's truly pathetic that you write a story on something that Ron Johnson addresses in the damn Biography; and no unlike the trumpeteers for Ron in this story, he doesn't take credit for it's creation and success as AI is alluding.



    The Apple Store does not exist without Steve and Ron--who came onboard to work with Steve's Apple Store vision, not the other way around. The epiphany came early morning of the day they planned to show it to the Board [and Ron was very open and honest to credit Steve for willing to scrap what they planned and quickly see the merits of Ron's idea and redesign before showing the store to the Board].



    i guess this will again end up in discussions on how Steve was stealing ideas. In a large company, ideas come from everywhere, and after the debate has transformed/refined the original idea, it is often difficult to credit the originator. But one thing is for sure : the boss has to make the final decision, especially when it implies to "start all over again ...". This decision making responsibility is the key one.



    To me, this is the point that differentiates Apple from other companies : the Boss accepts full responsibility (does not delegate) and even presents the product himself on stage.



    In such a situation, it is clear he is personnally involved in all key decisions, and furthermore, anybody working on the product know they will hear from the Boss if something goes wrong. This makes, a big, very big difference, as opposed to companies where the Boss delegates everything, wants to be credited for success, but blame others in case of failure ...
  • suddenly newtonsuddenly newton Posts: 13,115member
    Quote:

    According to Johnson, Jobs subsequently walked into a team meeting and said, "Ron thinks this store is all wrong, and he's right. We're going to start over.'"



    That's what made Ron and Steve great: Ron willing to step on toes. Steve willing to do the right thing. The retail stores they built kick so much ass...Microsoft copied it.
  • dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,513member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post


    But aren't Apple stores currently organized around individual products? Macs, iPhones, iPods, iPads & accessories are all in their own sections of each Apple Store. Sounds like Steve's original vision is what we have today, unless I am missing something.



    Most of those didn't exist in 2000.
  • rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by myapplelove View Post


    It's disappointing to see so many apple figure heads having left the company in the last 2-3 years, I hope the new guys have some vision as well.



    Which executives besides Ron Johnson have left recently? Most of the executives have been there for a long time. Eddy Cue and Jony Ive are 20+ year veterans and pre-date Steve's return. Phil Schiller and Scott Forstall came over with Steve and Tim Cook and Jeff Williams were hired shortly there after. There aren't many newbies in Apple's executive ranks.
  • rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    That's what made Ron and Steve great: Ron willing to step on toes. Steve willing to do the right thing. The retail stores they built kick so much ass...Microsoft copied it.



    what I got from Isaacson's book was if you challenged Steve hard and you were right he'd eventually come round to your way of thinking. Especially is you were someone who had earned his respect. And no doubt Steve had highi regard for Ron Johnson.
Sign In or Register to comment.