Tag Archives | Shopping

More on Apple’s New Retail Boss

Bobbie Johnson of GigaOM has a good piece on John Browett, Apple’s new Apple Store guy:

Immediate reaction to the news was intriguing, because it was split down the middle. On one side were those who read Browett’s credentials and the PR puffs. To them, it looks as if Apple has just hired a man who has succeeded at most things he’s tried, and spent the last five years steering a large retail business with more than 1,200 stores through a difficult period for the economy.

On the other hand, for those who know Dixons as it exists in the real world, the reaction was somewhat different: the most common refrain I saw was “Has Tim Cook ever been in a Dixons store?”.

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The Apple Store’s New Chief Already Runs an Electronics Retailer. Is That Good or Bad?

Ron Johnson, the Apple retail chief who helped turn the Apple Store into a juggernaut, announced last June that he was leaving to become CEO of JC Penney. He departed Apple as of November 1st. And now he’s been replaced: Apple has announced that John Browett is its new senior vice president of retail operations.

Since 2007, Browett has been CEO of Dixons Retail, a large electronics merchant in the UK that owns two chains, Currys and PC World. It’s sort of both the Best Buy and the CompUSA of its territory.

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More Stuff About the New Apple Store App

Jonathan Geller of BGR has more details on the upcoming Apple Store iOS app. He says it’s launching on Thursday and will enable in-store pickup of items you order from home and self-checkout, among other things. For me, the biggest drawback of the Apple Store is that it can be hard to attract the attention of an employee–oftentimes, they’re patiently answering the questions of clueless newbies–and so I love the idea of being able to shop there with as little human interaction as possible…

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Apple Stores: Check Out Without Checking In

Eric Slivka of MacRumors says Apple Stores plan to introduce a feature I’d love: The ability to check out and pay for products using your iPhone, no waiting for a clerk required:

It is not entirely clear what will happen once a user has checked out via the app, although store employees will of course be on the lookout for store visitors walking out with merchandise in hand, as they are already. Customers who have made a purchase through self-checkout will be able to show an emailed receipt to any employee, confirming their purchase.

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Greetings From iLine 2011

Once again, Apple is releasing a new iPhone. Once again, I’m in line at the crack of dawn at the Stonestown Galleria in San Francisco. This time I’m here with my wife Marie, who’s excited about upgrading from an iPhone 3GS to a 4S. We’ve been here for an hour; there were around 40 folks here when we arrived, along with a few phantom lawn chairs.)

There may be Apple Stores where iLines are still festive, even circus-like affairs. Not this one, at least so far. There are no kids dressed as iPhones. And Woz isn’t here. Just a lot of rather quiet people. And some Apple employees, who have already been consulting with people about carriers, capacities, colors, and the many and varied virtues of Applecare.

I’ll let you know if any excitement breaks out…

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Decide Tackles Phone Purchase Timing

When people ask me when they should buy a particular tech product, I have a standard answer: “Wait as long as you can without driving yourself crazy, but no longer.” That is, of course, a pat, one-size-fits all response.  A site called Decide tries to provide more sophisticated answers for specific products, by analyzing the chances that its price will fall or rise, and whether or not it’s likely to be replaced in the near future.

The company’s been doing this for laptops, cameras, and TVs for a while, and now it’s added phones to the roster. So far, its advice doesn’t appear to be comprehensive or completely up-to-date: It doesn’t seem to list the Droid Bionic and Triumph, two Motorola phones I reviewed last week. But it does have lots of models, and the recommendations I checked seemed sensible. For instance, it advises against buying an iPhone 4 right now, but says it’s safe to buy one of Apple’s recently-released MacBook Airs.

No matter how much data you have, timing purchases is tough–and whatever and whenever you buy, you need to be able able to deal with one of the eternal verities of the technology world: Better, cheaper stuff is always ahead. But Device looks handy. (Retrevo, which has some purchase-timing features of its own, is another handy resource.)


Help Me Help My Mom Pick Her Next Phone

My mom, sans BlackBerry.

My mother isn’t the sort of person who craves the latest smartphone just because it’s the latest smartphone. Actually, she remains smitten with her BlackBerry Curve 8900, which she’s had for a couple of years. But it’s developing an odd shadow effect on the screen, and so she rightly thinks she may be in the market for a new phone soon.

She asked me for advice on what to buy. And now I’m asking you for advice.

When it comes to decisions like this, I’m not a missionary. I don’t instinctively want to steer mom off the BlackBerry platform, or onto a particular OS. (For the record, I use an iPhone 4 most of the time, and a Verizon Fascinate some of them time.) I just want her to own a phone she’ll like at least as much as her BlackBerry.

Here’s what’s important to her:

  • She does a lot of e-mail on her phone.
  • She loves reading Kindle books on her BlackBerry. Very important to her.
  • She’d use a browser if she had a decent one.
  • She might dabble in Facebook.
  • She might take photos if her phone had a respectable camera.
  • She might well make video calls on Skype if she could.
  • She might listen to music if someone showed her the ropes. Video, probably not. (Unless it’s of her grandchildren.)
  • She’s not going to play games, do any social networking other than light Facebook use, or install apps willy-nilly.
  • I don’t think she’ll detect much of a difference between 3G and AT&T’s “4G”
  • As far as I know, she has no desire to leave AT&T. (I think she’s nearing the end of a two-year contract and might be able to wangle a new handset at full discount.)
  • I don’t think she has a specific price in mind. But when I mentioned phones being available for a penny on contract, she sounded happy. And when I talked about the iPhone 4 costing $199, she sounded alarmed.

I don’t think mom has had real hands-on experience with any modern smartphones. But my dad has (and likes) an HTC Aria, so she has some sense of the world beyond the Curve. And she told me she’s intrigued by touchscreens. She’s not adverse to trying something new.

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Copious Aims to Help Real People Buy From Real People

Who would you rather buy something from–a shadowy stranger or a person with a well-established, positive online reputation? A new online marketplace called Copious that’s launching today is betting that just about everybody would opt for the latter. And it aims to shed light on its buyers and sellers by tying together their activities on Facebook, Twitter, and other social venues so you know a bit about them before dough exchanges hands.

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