I saw this over on WinInformant's Short Takes and found it interesting, so I went digging and found the Business Week article that Paul was refeering to.
Even Business Week's Apple guru agrees that Apple Computer's retail stores have proven to be a costly mistake for the company. Despite large crowds a most locations, the stores are only selling 1 percent of all customers to buy Macs, and most of those people are existing Mac users, not Windows users. So 800,000 people passed through the stores in December as Apple claimed, it was able to sell about 1000 Macs -- almost solely to previous Mac owners.
The trend within the Apple stores is that the average transaction price in an Apple outlet is a lot higher than on the company's Web site or at big retailers such as CompUSA. Customers drop an average of $2,050 when shopping at a store, which is some $400 more than the companywide figure. The reasons: 40% of store buyers are newbies and the clerks are doing a good job of explaining why new users need such extras as Airport cards and Office.
Apple do acknowledge that even though their clerks have "Mac expertise" , they are doing a poor job of selling Macs. That's what has made the stores a dream come true for us Mac enthusiasts.
But now Apple plans to beef up its instruction to teach clerks how to close the deal, which if successful, in convincing 1 percent more customers to buy Macs -- and preferably these people would be non-Apple users to begin with -- the company could raise its market share from 4 percent to 6.5 percent in the U.S.
If this could happen, the Apple stores would be a smashing success! If Apple can just pump up the salesmanship, the stores would be filled with the sound of ringing cash registers. And the company might even grab a few more converts. But, only time will tell.
News source: WinInfo Short Takes: Week of February 25