The Apple Store is a chain of retail stores owned and operated by Apple Inc., dealing in computers and consumer electronics. As of December 2009, Apple has opened 283 stores; 221 in 41 US states, 25 in the United Kingdom (21 in England, two in Scotland, one in Northern Ireland and one in Wales), 14 in Canada, 7 in Japan, 6 in Australia, 3 in Switzerland, 2 in Germany, Italy and France, and 1 in China.
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The stores, designed by San Francisco based design firm Eight Inc., sell Apple Macintosh personal computers and software, iPods, iPhones, third-party accessories, and other consumer electronics such as the Apple TV. Many stores feature a theatre for presentations and workshops, the Studio for training with Apple products, and all stores offer a Genius Bar for technical support and repairs, as well as free workshops available to the public.
On May 15, 2001 Steve Jobs led a group of journalists from a hotel in Tysons Corner, Virginia to Apple's first store in the second level of Tysons Corner Center for a commemorative press event. The first two Apple Stores opened on May 19 in Tysons Corner and later the same day in Glendale, California at Glendale Galleria. The first Apple Store with the current layout and hardware (wood tables and stone flooring) opened in Pasadena, California. Apple opened its 200th store on October 26, 2007 in Gilbert, Arizona, 2,251 days after opening its Tysons Corner store. Many stores are located inside shopping malls, but Apple has since built several stand-alone "flagship" stores in high-profile locations. Flagship stores have opened in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Tokyo, Osaka, London, Sydney, Montreal, Munich, Zurich, Paris, Beijing, Glasgow, Honululu and Boston. The Boston store at 815 Boylston Street is the largest Apple Store in the United States. The Regent Street store in London, United Kingdom at 235 Regent Street is the largest Apple Store in the world.
Each store is designed to suit the needs of the location and regulatory authorities. Apple has received numerous architectural awards for its store designs, particularly its midtown Manhattan location.
Originally, Apple Stores contained a dedicated point of sale station, however in 2006, Apple began introducing a new store layout and design with metallic walls and backlit signage. The new store design replaced the dedicated point of sale station with the handheld EasyPay system. However, a dedicated point of sale station still exists in most of these stores to facilitate transactions not paid for by credit card. The Regent Street store has more point of sale terminals than any other store in the world with 28 terminals.
All Apple Stores feature a Genius Bar, where customers can receive technical advice or set up service and repair for their products. The Genius Bar provides software support for Mac OS X and hardware service on products that are not classified vintage or obsolete. However, in most cases the Geniuses will at least attempt to assist customers with older hardware. Originally, visitors to the Genius Bar were offered free Evian water. Apple dropped this amenity in February 2002.
To address increasing numbers of iPod customers at the Genius Bar, some new stores also feature an iPod Bar. First seen at the Ginza store in Tokyo, then at the New York locations, the iPod Bar has become a common feature at newly built stores.
Most new stores feature a station called The Studio, a Genius Bar-like setting where customers can meet with a "Creative" and receive help with projects ranging from organizing a photo album to music composition to film editing. Some of the older stores are being considered to carry a Studio in a future remodel, in some cases replacing the older theaters.