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At Apple, the head of retail is a major, public-focused position.
While Apple is a technology company, its stores — more than 500 across the world — are one of the main places where the company can speak directly to customers, fix their issues, and persuade them to buy new Apple computers.
In fact, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, Angela Ahrendts, is fond of calling Apple stores the company’s “biggest product.” Most of Apple’s full-time employees work in its stores.
But now, Ahrendts is out. In an announcement on Tuesday, Apple said Ahrendts would be leaving, and taking over for her would be Deirdre O’Brien, who runs Apple’s human resources and will add the retail division to her workload.
Though Ahrendts was a public face of Apple, appearing at launch events and giving interviews, many consumers and Apple retail employees will remember her five-year tenure as a period of changes and challenges.
When she started, Apple’s stores were already a juggernaut. Apple stopped reporting sales per square foot a while ago, but a 2017 estimate from eMarketer said that Apple made more than $5,000 a square foot — higher than any other retailer.
Ahrendts oversaw a major redesign of Apple’s stores, starting with the name — not Apple Stores, but just Apple, like Burberry, the fashion house she used to lead.
Under her supervision, Apple stores moved away from lines and the Genius Bar, where customers could sit to get their products fixed, and moved to a new paradigm, where Apple employees roam the floor and can help or check out customers from their mobile devices.
She also integrated Apple’s online store and its retail arm, such that so many people were able to preorder and pick up iPhones on launch days that the famous line of fans became largely a phenomenon of the past.
“Angela has inspired and energized our retail teams with the vision of stores as a place where the best of Apple comes together to serve customers and communities. During her tenure, the in-store experience has been redefined with programs like Today at Apple, and our relationship with customers is stronger than ever,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a memo to employees obtained by Business Insider.
“Ahrendts’s signature accomplishment has been the unification of Apple’s offline and online retail experiences; she also advanced the Today at Apple in-store experience,” the Loup Ventures founder Gene Munster wrote in an email.
Apple employees liked that Ahrendts was communicative and were surprised about the announcement. She posted regular video addresses to retail employees, which could be viewed on Apple’s employee portal. She also regularly communicated with retail teams about why certain programs or products were being changed or added, an Apple technician told Business Insider, asking for anonymity because they are not allowed to speak publicly about their job.
Retail employees were informed of the changes in an email sent shortly after Apple’s public announcement.
But there were significant challenges under Ahrendts as well. Stores are often overcrowded, especially during important periods like the holiday season. Apple stores became the de facto service center for iPhones purchased from anywhere, including from carriers and other retailers, straining limited resources. And the new system of hailing an Apple employee from anywhere on the show floor frustrated some people, who would’ve preferred lining up.
Apple’s service problems got worse in the past year when the company was forced to offer new iPhone batteries for $29 after a scandal about software updates. Stores saw a major uptick in customers, causing crowding and unsatisfactory experiences. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber said that Apple replaced 10 times the number of batteries it normally would, and several types of batteries were in short supply. Apple eventually had to bring in employees from other service-oriented parts of the business, as well as external contractors, to deal with the backlog, according to 9to5Mac.
Ahrendts wasn’t immune to gaffes, either. At one iPhone launch, she referred to Apple’s stores as “town squares,” framing them as places to gather, instead of just buying things. This rhetoric dovetailed nicely with Apple’s expanded classes, which teach people how to use Apple products and software.
But it also highlighted that Apple wanted to buy or lease long-term flagship properties in major cities around the world and transform them into stores, and it was the key phrase that protesters latched onto when fighting these planned Apple expansions. Protesters have already turned resistance into Apple’s stores into major controversies in Stockholm and in Melbourne, Australia.
‘This is what you were born to do’
Ahrendts also at times seemed uncomfortable leading a large division of retail employees. Before the Apple Watch launched, she said in an address to employees that “this is what you were born to do,” annoying some retail employees who see their job as just one part of their lives.
Even Ahrendts seemed tired of a numbers-focused retail operation in a recent interview, and she seemed to wist for a smaller-scale, fashion-oriented challenge. (Apple retail employees are closely tracked with something called a Net Promoter Score, and even though Apple doesn’t provide many metrics for its stores to investors, they’re closely watched internally.)
“The tragedy in retail is that it has become about numbers,” Ahrendts told Vogue Business. “It’s about cost-cutting the way to prosperity instead of investing in your people, and in that environment, big isn’t always good.”
Apple has 70,000 retail employees out of its 132,000 total employees, and its median pay across the company is $55,426, which provides a ballpark for what most retail employees make. Ahrendts was one of Apple’s highest-paid executives — she made about $70 million in stock grants when she joined Apple and $20 million to $30 million in total compensation most years.
What remains to be seen is how many of Ahrendts’ changes will ultimately stick. As 9to5Mac’s Michael Steeber, who follows Apple retail closely, tweeted: “It feels like Apple is evolving the intent of putting trees in its stores and deprecating the term ‘Genius Grove.'”
But other changes, like the closer online-to-physical integration, will most likely stay in place for a while under O’Brien. She’s an Apple lifer, having worked at the company for 30 years, and given her background in operations — CEO Tim Cook’s specialty — she’s likely to keep many of the Ahrendts-era changes in place and keep the trains running on time.
Cooper, 44, made his directorial debut with the Lady Gaga star vehicle, which has racked up nearly $418 million at the global box office since its October 2018 release.
“I was embarrassed,” Cooper confessed in “Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations from Times Square” (via People) on Tuesday. “I was at a coffee shop in New York City and looked down at my phone and [my publicist] has told me congratulations and said what we had been nominated for.”
He admitted, “I was embarrassed because I felt I hadn’t done my job.”
Cooper’s co-star Gaga disagreed.
“At the end of the day, he knows that he’s the best director in my eyes, and in all of our eyes as his cast,” she said last month. “I know that he’s so happy that we’ve all been nominated and that the film was recognized and we all feel really, really beyond elated for the recognition.”
A Connecticut town touted as one of the safest in the country is reeling Wednesday after a woman’s body was found bound and stuffed in a suitcase. Police in upscale Greenwich are following numerous public tips, and encouraging others to come forward with information, after highway workers made the grisly discovery in a wooded area 10 to 15 feet off a road around 8am Tuesday, reports Greenwich Time. The outlet describes the scene as in a depression “out of sight from nearby residences … near a small area adjoining the road where a car could park.” “Where the actual death took place, we do not know,” Police Capt. Robert Berry said at a Tuesday press conference, per the Greenwich Free Press. He noted officers were working to identify the victim, believed to be aged 18 to 30.
“We have received some leads on some possible identifications of the victim, but at this point, nothing is confirmed,” Berry said. The cause of death is still unknown, but there is “no doubt homicide was involved,” he added, pointing out that the clothed woman’s hands and feet were restrained inside what a news helicopter revealed to be a full-size red suitcase, per Fox 61. Police said it was difficult to know how long the victim had been dead due to fluctuating temperatures in the area, per NBC New York. “This is going to be a long methodical process, we want to make sure we do things correctly,” Berry said, per Greenwich Time. He noted one complication, per the Free Press. “There are a lot of tire tracks from vehicles and footprints” at the scene. (A university professor allegedly hid his wife’s body in the same way.)
It’s easy to think that the New England Patriots are a finely tuned machine of coaches and players, with every part working together in perfect harmony. It’s hard to argue when you look at the results. But even quarterback Tom Brady has to convince Bill Belichick to take a chance sometimes.
NFL Films has released some highlights from their upcoming Super Bowl LIII film, and one of them features Brady successfully lobbying Belichick to go for a field goal in the final minutes of Super Bowl LIII.
The Patriots were up 10-3 on the Los Angeles Rams as the clock was winding down in the fourth quarter. The video picks up with Brady and Belichick having a sideline conference, and Brady says, “just kick a field goal” like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. Belichick checks with someone on his coaching staff, and Brady says “40-yarder, game is over.”
Tom Brady had to convince Bill Belichick to kick a 42-yard FG to take a two-score lead at the end of the Superbowl.
It didn’t take much convincing to get Belichick on board. With 72 seconds left in the game, it was worth the risk. Missing it meant that the Rams would have just over a minute to tie the game and do what they hadn’t been able to do all game: march down the field and score a touchdown.
But Stephen Gostkowski kicked the ball through the uprights, which put the Patriots up 13-3 and gave the Rams too much work to do in the final minute of the game. When presented with a chance to kick their own field goal to narrow the Patriots lead to just seven, the Rams missed it with eight seconds left.
We don’t know what would have happened if Belichick’s decision had gone the other way. In an alternate universe, this post might be about the Rams’ miraculous comeback after Belichick decided to skip the field goal. While fans of many other teams would rather live in that universe, thankfully for Patriots fans we live in a universe where that field goal helped seal the Patriots’ victory in Super Bowl LIII.