Apple wants kids to hang out at Apple stores

Image: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
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If you’ve just gotten out of school for the day and want to hang out with your friends before you head home, where would you go? In the US, there’s a near-infinite selection of chain restaurants, coffee shops, diners, bookstores, movie theaters, and comic book stores to choose from. But Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s head of retail, wants the answer to be an Apple store.

Apple is in the process of revamping the look and feel of its retail outlets across the world, and to highlight some of the recent changes (including rebranding the “Genius Bar” to the “Genius Grove” and adding foliage everywhere), Ahrendts gave an interview to CBS This Morning, this morning. Ahrendts told CBS that she will see her work as a success when Generation Z, the catchall term for the generation behind the equally amorphous Millennials, decides of their own volition to hang out at Apple stores. As CBS reported:

“A lot of the big online guys have said they’re opening stores. Amazon’s investing in stores. Google’s investing in stores. … Starbucks figured it out, you know? Being a gathering place for – right? ‘Meet me at Starbucks,”’ Ahrendts said. “And you know, I’ve told the teams, ‘I’ll know we’ve done a really, really great job if the next generation, if Gen Z says, “Meet me at Apple. Did you see what’s going on at Apple today?”’”

Many people already visit Apple’s roughly 500 stores for reasons other than buying a new iPhone or Mac. The stores function as pseudo-internet cafés for tourists and others without dedicated internet connections to check their email or read the news on beautiful, aluminum-clad computers. But it’s a very different proposition to want to hang out at an Apple store. Starbucks succeeds because it sells coffee and has comfy couches, which is pretty much the ideal setup for hanging out. Apple’s new designs appear to have wooden boxes to sit on, definitely no coffee, and probably no easy access to a bathroom, something generally required of places where people have prolonged hang sessions.

That being said, Ahrendts said Apple will soon host new educational programs on how to use its software in all its stores, and from the CBS interview, it appears some may be used to host concerts, which would definitely be a reason to hang out among the iPhones and potted trees.