Apple eyes Genius Bar overhaul as search for retail chief continues

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Finding a replacement for Ron Johnson, Apple’s former retail chief who departed the company to become CEO of J.C. Penney on Nov. 1, is no easy task. Apple is employing a head-hunting firm to find an outside candidate, but it may turn the search inward as the search hasn’t yet born fruit. Apple has also done some major shaking up of its retail operations despite the ongoing transition, and seems eager to continue charging ahead with those efforts, too.

According to Bloomberg, despite Apple’s hiring in August of executive talent search firm Egon Zehnder International, it may instead end up hiring someone internally if an outside search isn’t coming up with any results. An earlier report from Cult of Mac had pegged Apple’s current VP of Retail, Steve Cano, as Johnson’s replacement, but Apple refuted those claims.

Apple said via a spokesperson that its “search is under way with lots of interest,” and noted that the company is “carefully selecting Ron’s successor,” in a statement to Bloomberg. But in the meantime, it’s hardly business as usual for Apple Retail stores.

Just last week, Apple launched its revamped iOS Apple Store application, which provides ship-to-store ordering and EasyPay self-payment options to U.S. Apple retail locations. I argued that this represents another potential revolution sparked by Apple in brick-and-mortar sales, and now there’s a new report circulating that more changes are still to come.

On Saturday, 9t05Mac reported Apple will be making iPads the new wonder tool of the Apple Store Genius Bar, replacing MacBook Pros that have long been in service. Geniuses toting iPads would employ special software to determine if a user’s device was eligible for repair, diagnose problems and even order replacement parts. For Apple, this represents cost-savings; an iPad is much cheaper than a MacBook Pro, after all. But the real benefit will be for customers seeking Genius help, since it’ll make Genius work spaces less cluttered and more comfortable, and keep Geniuses much more mobile.

So despite Apple’s lack of a formal helmsman in place for its retail operations, the ship is sailing quite nicely, and even venturing outside its established routes. Good to see that even with a hugely successful retail model already in place, and in the midst of a highly transitional period, Apple still strives to bring its A-game to an area where it continues to have a steady, albeit les- publicized impact on a global scale.

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