Apple Computer has no plans to bring its retail stores to Europe, even though they are a big hit in the U.S., Ton van Garderen, Apple's general manager for Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (Benelux) said Monday.
The 27 stores in the U.S. had 800,000 visitors in December and are helping Apple win new customers, with 40 percent of the buyers not yet Macintosh owners, Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs said in a keynote speech Monday at the start of the Macworld Expo in San Francisco.
The same magic might not work in Europe, according to the head of Apple's Benelux operations.
"The distribution channel and the buying patterns in the U.S. and Europe are different," said Van Garderen. "The Apple stores are really Steve's baby and he mainly focuses on the U.S. market with these stores. There are no plans for stores outside the U.S.," he said.
Apple in Europe sells its systems through retailers. The iMac and iBook are on the shelves at general electronics stores, while the more advanced Power Books and Power Mac G4s are sold by specialized retailers who earned the label Apple centers by generating the bulk of their sales from Apple products. These Apple centers are not operated by Apple.
In the U.S., Apple also takes a different approach in siting Apple stores, said Van Garderen.
"Apple stores in the U.S. are all located in shopping malls; in Europe the Apple centers are not in prime retail locations," he said. "Those are very expensive locations and we would have to sell a lot to make due."
Apple outpaced its own store-opening schedule in the U.S. The company's goal was to open 25 stores in 2001, but it opened 27. In 2002 more Apple stores will open in the U.S., Jobs said.