Anyone who has ever passed by an Apple store knows that they are generally packed. I have passed by dozens and it never ceases to amaze me that the traffic in the store is laser-focused on various devices, gadgets and software. You never see this sort of enthusiasm in general PC stores. There is a special magic taking place in these minimalistic retail shops.
Now it seems the financial analysts have been able to quantify just what these establishments add to Apple's bottom line. Needham & Company analyst Charlie Wolf says since 2004 more than 18 million PC users have switched to Macs!
"Mac sales in the March quarter were almost four times higher than they were in the second quarter of fiscal 2004," wrote Wolf. Windows switchers have more than doubled the size of the Mac installed base, he added.
Apparently the genius bars in the Apple stores get lots of credit for easing Microsoft users into the ever more popular Mac culture. Without these conveniently located tech experts, who knows how many fewer people would be comfortable switching.
The future for Apple is to launch more stores and the question worth asking is how exactly does Microsoft combat this threat? I haven't seen a Microsoft store yet but the obvious goal is to have a similar retail draw in these newer establishments. But to do this you need really cool and innovative products and at the moment it seems Apple is the king of cool and we shouldn't expect it to lose its shine.
I am looking forward to Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 - and am secretly (not anymore) wondering if it will have what it takes to wow mall-shoppers worldwide. Preliminary looks at the gadget tell me that Microsoft is on the right track and with the momentum Apple has, increased competition will potentially slow down Apple's overwhelming phone growth rate. Tablets of course are another story.