Apple eyeing ways to convert Wintel users in stores

Apple Computer is expanding its retail store strategy as it considers new ways to draw Windows users to the Mac in the US, according to a ZDNet News article.

          Apple Computer is expanding its retail store strategy as it considers new ways to draw Windows users to the Mac in the US, according to a ZDNet News article.

          Apple is considering a number of in-store demonstrations to attract potential PC users, sources told ZDNet. Ideas include bringing Windows PCs into the stores where customers could be shown the advantages of Macs. PCs from one or more manufacturers would be compared with Macs, the article said. Apple also plans to run Virtual PC from Connectix to show potential converts that they can use current Windows software on Macs.

          "There's this pervading perception of the Mac as being this alien, niche product," Technology Business Research analyst Tim Deal says. "If you can actually show PC users it's not as alien, not as different as they might think it is -- something the Apple stores already are good at doing -- certainly it's going to increase sales."

          Apple "has taken a conservative accounting approach to the stores, treating them strictly as retail operations competing against other computer dealers." If the company treated the outlets as manufacturer's stores, which would benefit from in-house manufacturing and distribution mechanisms, the retail operations would be profitable, the article says.

          Sales seem to be on the increase in cities where Apple has opened retail stores. During the second quarter, sales of Apple products jumped by about a third year over year in cities with a store, ZDNet reports.

          "What that indicates is that the physical presence of Apple in some of those markets has removed some of the mystery about the Macintosh," Deal says.

          As the store expansion continues, Apple will increasingly turn its attention to converting current PC users to Macs. An estimated 40% of the 5000 people visiting an Apple retail store each week are PC users, but this strategy "is ever-developing and changing because of what the company has learned about PC buyers," according to the article.

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