I think Gruber is too kind.
I give the retail experience an F.
Fun to browse but a pain to check out and getting service sucks and in places like Singapore – where they have a flagship store, they are too busy and always route you to the local repair place. Which frankly is a better service anyway so I go straight there.
In essence – I have no real reason to ever go to the Apple flagship store. Which is kind of silly.
I’ve disliked the experience of buying stuff at the Apple Store ever since they did away with queues for checking out. I just want to get in line, wait my turn, pay, and leave. Instead, the way to check out at an Apple Store is to wander around until you get the attention of an employee who has one of the handheld checkout iPod Touches. This can be maddening. My wife refuses to shop at an Apple Store for this reason. I know you can use the Apple Store app to check yourself out, but I don’t like it. Part of the reason Apple’s stores are too crowded is that people are wandering around trying to pay for things.
And getting technical support at Apple Stores is terrible now. In the old days you could just walk in with a broken or otherwise problematic device and get an appointment at the Genius Bar within the hour. Now, the Genius Bar is booked for days in advance — sometimes close to a week. In some ways that’s inevitable — Apple is way more popular now than it was pre-iPhone. But inevitable or not, the result is that getting support at an Apple Store now stinks. And frankly, the technical acumen of the Genius Bar staffers is now hit-or-miss.
“Today at Apple” is nice, but the primary purposes of an Apple Store should be shopping and service — and I think both of those experiences should be a lot better.