Apple's plans for this weekend are becoming increasingly clear. The prospect of a new product launch has all but died. It seems this weekend will see the official unveiling of the new Apple retail store experience.
9 to 5 Mac has received a number of unconfirmed claims from a trusted source on what changes Apple will be making. According to the source, the changes being made are internally being referred to as "Apple Store 2.0." The planning and development of the new retail experience reaches beyond Apple's Senior VP of Retail Ron Johnson, and extends to Steve Jobs, and Apple Senior Vice President of Design Jonathan Ive.
The program, which allegedly has been led by Jobs and Ive, will include new "Personal Setup" services referred to as "Startup Sessions," and will be much more interactive than current personal setup services. Also, the interactivity will extend to the signage in Apple Store displays. The paper signs that currently display information about products on the Apple Store floor will be replaced with interactive iPads. Beefed up displays and new sound systems will round out the cosmetic, and technical changes to the store floor.
Perhaps the most interesting claim the source makes is that a new iOS Apple Store application will be released as well. The new app will add another level of interactivity to the Apple Store 2.0 experience. An example the source gave was a user can walk in an Apple Store, and the app will know where the user is at in the store. The app can then ask the user if they'd like to speak to a specialist.
The motif for the new Apple Store experience seems to be interactivity. Touch screen user interfaces have been implemented in the retail experience sparingly. Microsoft's "Surface" technology, revealed back in 2008, was supposed to usher in a new era of interacticty for consumers, but this has been largely unrealized. Apple seems to be using their much cheaper, and smaller, iPads to bring a new level of interaction to the retail experience.
There currently are a number of Android and iOS apps available for Walmart and other retailers, but they're really nothing more than paired down, portable versions of the companies websites. If, and I emphasize IF, this is in fact the case, and Apple does unveil a new, more interactive retail experience, hopefully the rest of the retail industry can be inspired.
In an era of incredibly powerful portable electronics, it's only a matter of time until the purported level of interactivity in the new Apple retail model extends itself throughout the retail sector.
Source: 9 to 5 Mac