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Ex-Apple Store boss talks about Steve Jobs' role in creating stores

iMac G3, iPod, Mac OS X and iPhone are four of the products often cited as some of the main drivers for Apple's resurrection in the first decade of the century. Another ?product?, however, also needs to enter into this relationship: Apple Stores.

Today led by Angela Ahrendts (and Jony Ive, in a way), Ma's retail spaces have undergone a major transformation over the past few years, but have been a revolutionary proposition for the segment since the opening of the first store (Apple Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia) in 2001. At the time, the two main names in the development of the project were Steve Jobs and Ron Johnson, then senior vice president of retail for Ma.

Johnson recently participated in a podcast episode Without Fail talking about the period of creation of the concept of the company's stores, highlighting the role of Jobs in the project and noting how the frequent disagreements between him and the CEO were the main reason for the success of Apple Stores.

Johnson stated that the opportunity to work with Jobs was a ?gift?, classifying his criticality and intuition as second to none:

His ability to sharply criticize a creative endeavor was unmatched. And his intuition, the understanding of how consumers would respond to things, was second to none. It was a gift for me to work with him because you are always in business when you are making things up, so you need to balance the dream and the need. For most people, the need overwhelms when making decisions and you don't have a dream.

The executive recalled the prototype period of the Apple Store, when those responsible for the project rented a warehouse in Cupertino and experimented with dozens of store models, making drastic or tiny changes at all times. Jobs visited the warehouse every week, carefully analyzing every detail.

We worked a week on the store design and it was totally different. And Jobs literally parked his car, walked ahead, or stopped to look at the 600 square meters. You know, he would walk with his hand on his chin and say "I like this, I don't like that". He noticed all the changes immediately.

The CEO's attention to detail was so obsessive that he immediately noticed when, in a given week, the project's development team moved the 91cm tall tables to identical 5cm lower models according to Jobs, the previous version was more appropriate.

Apple Tysons Corner, Apple's first storeApple Tysons Corner

Things do not always flow in the most perfect harmony: five months before the opening in Virginia, Jobs was satisfied with the project and ready to approve its application in the first store. On a given night, Johnson called the CEO and said he was going to rebuild the entire prototype in search of new ideas, being met with an unfriendly reaction from Jobs: "We finally have something I want to build and you want to destroy everything?" , said the inventor.

Just as Johnson was not surprised to find, the next day, that Jobs had agreed to the change. As the executive stated:

He called me that night and said, ?Ron, you reminded me of an important lesson. Everything great that I did I had the courage to, at some point in the process, stop, start over and rethink. I am proud of you for challenging our store concept ?.

The rest of the story: Apple stores were a resounding success, considered responsible for transforming the cold and boring image of the computer stores of the 1990s into cozy, fun and disputed places. Johnson left Ma in 2007 to become CEO of JCPenney department stores; now he leads a startup of e-commerce called Enjoy.

It seems that things worked out for everyone, right?

via AppleInsider