Technology StocksBB: BlackBerry (fka RIMM: Research in Motion)

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From: Eric L12/18/2010 1:06:21 PM
1 Recommendation   of 1362
RIM Fiscal Q3 2011 Official Earnings Results Announcement (PDF)

RIM (RIMM) solidly beat the Street on yet another record quarter which saw record shipments of 14.2 million BlackBerry® smartphones carrying an ASP of $315. The company beat EPS estimates by $0.09, and they beats on revs and gross margins (43.6%) as well as guiding Q4 EPS and revs above consensus. RIM stock was already up on a strong run-up entering Q3 earnings and it had surged by more than 30% since the last earnings report.

>> Research In Motion Reports Third Quarter Results

Research In Motion Press Release
Waterloo, ON
December 16, 2010

Research In Motion Limited (RIM) (Nasdaq: RIMM; TSX: RIM), a world leader in the mobile communications market, today reported record third quarter results for the three months ended November 27, 2010 (all figures in U.S. dollars and U.S. GAAP).


• Record BlackBerry® smartphone shipments of 14.2 million grew 40% over the same quarter last year
• Revenue grew 40% over the same quarter last year to $5.5 billion
• Q3 Earnings per share of $1.74 were up 58% over the same quarter last year
• Cash increased by $446 million to $2.5 billion at the end of the quarter

Q3 Results:

Revenue for the third quarter of fiscal 2011 was $5.49 billion, up 19% from $4.62 billion in the previous quarter and up 40% from $3.92 billion in the same quarter of last year. The revenue breakdown for the quarter was approximately 82% for devices, 15% for service, and 3% for software and other revenue. During the quarter, RIM shipped approximately 14.2 million devices.

Approximately 5.1 million net new BlackBerry® subscriber accounts were added in the quarter. At the end of the quarter, the total BlackBerry subscriber account base was over 55 million.

"We are pleased to report another record quarter with strong growth in shipments of BlackBerry smartphones leading to record revenue, subscriber additions and earnings. RIM’s business continues to grow and diversify as BlackBerry adoption accelerates in markets around the world," said Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO at Research In Motion. "With strong results and momentum from our recent product introductions, as well as growing excitement from our partners and customers around upcoming smartphone, tablet, software and service offerings, we are setting the stage for continuing success."

The Company’s net income for the quarter was $911.1 million, or $1.74 per share diluted, compared with net income of $796.7 million, or $1.46 per share diluted, in the prior quarter and net income of $628.4 million, or $1.10 per share diluted, in the same quarter last year.

The total of cash, cash equivalents, short-term and long-term investments was $2.47 billion as of November 27, 2010, compared to $2.03 billion at the end of the previous quarter, an increase of $446 million from the prior quarter. Cash flow from operations in Q3 was approximately $975 million. Uses of cash included capital expenditures of approximately $300 million, common share repurchases of approximately $133 million, and intangible asset purchases of approximately $45 million.

Q4 Outlook
Revenue for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 ending February 26, 2011 is expected to be in the range of $5.5-$5.7 billion. Gross margin percentage for the fourth quarter is expected to be similar to third quarter levels. Earnings per share for the fourth quarter are expected to be in the range of $1.74-$1.80 per share diluted.

Update on RIM’s Board of Directors: RIM announced today that its board of directors has appointed co-Chief Executive Officers Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis as co-chairmen of the board. John Richardson remains as lead independent director of RIM and will continue to facilitate the functioning of the board independently of management. The board believes these appointments, in conjunction with Mr. Richardson serving as lead independent director, represent an appropriate and effective leadership structure for RIM. RIM also announced today that Jim Estill has resigned his position as a director of RIM due to a business conflict. RIM thanks Mr. Estill for his 13 years of service on the board.

Conference Call and Webcast

A conference call and webcast replay can be accessed after 7 pm ET, December 16, 2010 until midnight ET, December 30, 2010. It can be accessed by dialing 416-640-1917 and entering passcode 4310313#. The conference call will also be archived at .

About Research In Motion (RIM)

Research In Motion is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of innovative wireless solutions for the worldwide mobile communications market. Through the development of integrated hardware, software and services that support multiple wireless network standards, RIM provides platforms and solutions for seamless access to time-sensitive information including email, phone, SMS messaging, internet and intranet-based applications. RIM technology also enables a broad array of third party developers and manufacturers to enhance their products and services with wireless connectivity. RIM’s portfolio of award-winning products, services and embedded technologies are used by thousands of organizations around the world and include the BlackBerry® wireless platform, the RIM Wireless Handheld™ product line, software development tools, radio-modems and software/hardware licensing agreements. Founded in 1984 and based in Waterloo, Ontario, RIM operates offices in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. RIM is listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market (NASDAQ: RIMM) and the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: RIM). For more information, visit or ###

- Eric -

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From: Kidela12/30/2010 9:06:21 PM
   of 1362
Video: What's In Your BlackBerry?

We recently published a short video detailing the inner workings of the BlackBerry and the relatively unknown rare earth elements that make everything work.

Check out the video via the link below, and let us know what you think!

Watch: What's In Your BlackBerry?

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From: teevee2/19/2011 1:31:39 PM
   of 1362
A glimpse of what marrying QNX and TAT's abilities might do for RIM's smart phones and tablets:

See "The future of screens" here:

RIM may well become THE leader in smart phones and tablets.

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From: Eric L3/5/2011 8:56:43 AM
   of 1362
Keith Pardy, RIM's Marketing Chief Departs ...

Hired from Nokia where his tenure was relatively brief, Pardy joined RIM in 2009 ...

>> RIM Loses Marketing Chief

Phred Dvorak and Stuart Weinberg
The Wall Street Journal
March 5, 2011

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. said Friday its chief marketing officer has decided to leave the company—just weeks ahead of one of its most significant product rollouts in years.

RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, said Keith Pardy is leaving for "personal reasons," but is continuing to help the company over a six-month transition period. Mr. Pardy wasn't available to comment.

RIM didn't say whether the company had hired a successor. Mr. Pardy told the company a month ago about his plans to depart, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The departure of Mr. Pardy, who was hired from Nokia Corp. in early 2009, deprives the smartphone maker of a marketing chief during the crucial lead-up to the launch of its PlayBook tablet, expected at the end of March or early April.

It reflects larger turmoil in RIM, as the company struggles to remake itself from a maker of corporate-workhorse devices known for security and reliability to a producer of hip, media-savvy gadgets that can compete with the likes of Apple Inc.'s iPhones and iPads, say people familiar with RIM's strategy.

The PlayBook will feature a new, faster operating system and revamped look-and-feel. RIM executives say it will be the best look yet at how the company is reinventing its products.

But mobile-market watchers say the PlayBook has suffered ever since it was announced last year from confusion over who it's supposed to appeal to and what market it will satisfy. RIM has consistently stressed the PlayBook's usefulness to businesses and its potential popularity among corporate technology officers—even as it shows off the tablet's ability to play videogames and watch movies in demonstrations.

Mr. Pardy had been a marketing executive at Nokia and Coca-Cola Co.; RIM executives had hoped Mr. Pardy would be able to help the company shed its staid corporate image and help it boost popularity in the battle against branding wizards like Apple.

RIM's BlackBerry phones are still selling strongly overseas. But they've been fast losing share to Apple's iPhones and devices that run on Google Inc.'s Android operating system in the trend-setting North American market.

Like Nokia, the Finnish phone giant, RIM was late to recognize the importance of touch-screens, cool interfaces and the need to offer third-party applications. It has also fallen short in getting a marketing message out that resonates with consumers, analysts said.

"RIM's challenge is product, and another is perception," said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis, a market research firm.

Jack Gold, principal at J. Gold Associates, a technology consulting firm, said RIM has never been a strong marketing company in part because it never had to be. "They've been hit by a competitive pressure that they didn't feel three or four years ago," he said. ###

- Eric

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From: teevee3/22/2011 4:23:55 PM
   of 1362
3/22/2011 4:01:13 AM - Market Wire

BlackBerry PlayBook to be available in over 20,000 Retail Outlets in the U.S. and Canada

WATERLOO, ONTARIO, Mar 22, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX News Network) --
Research In Motion (RIM) (NASDAQ: RIMM)(TSX: RIM) today announced plans to make the highly-anticipated BlackBerry(R) PlayBook(TM) tablet available in more than 20,000 retail outlets in the U.S. and Canada.

"The BlackBerry PlayBook is an amazing tablet that is already being widely praised as a multi-tasking powerhouse with an uncompromised web experience and an ultra-portable design," said Mike Lazaridis, President & Co-CEO, Research In Motion. "Given the high level of customer interest in the BlackBerry PlayBook, we are particularly pleased to be working with such an amazing lineup of retail partners."

The BlackBerry PlayBook delivers professional-grade, consumer-friendly experiences that redefine the possibilities of mobile computing. This ultra-portable tablet looks and feels great, measuring less than half an inch thick and weighing less than a pound. It features a vivid 7-inch high-resolution display that is highly-responsive with a fluid touch screen experience. It also offers industry leading performance, uncompromised web browsing with support for Adobe(R) Flash(R) Player 10.1, true multitasking, HD multimedia, advanced security features, out-of-the-box enterprise support and a robust development environment.

The BlackBerry PlayBook with Wi-Fi will be available in three models and will feature a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $499 in the United States and Canada. The lineup of retailers and wireless carriers currently expected to carry the BlackBerry PlayBook in the United States and Canada includes the following companies(i):

United States

-- AT&T -- Best Buy -- Cbeyond -- Cellular South -- Cincinnati Bell -- Office Depot -- RadioShack -- -- Staples -- Sprint -- Verizon -- BlackBerry from Wireless Giant


-- Bell
-- Best Buy
-- Chapters / Indigo
-- Costco
-- Future Shop
-- Mobilicity
-- MTS Allstream
-- Rogers
-- Sasktel
-- Sears
-- Staples
-- Telus
-- Tbooth Wireless
-- The Source
-- Videotron
-- Walmart
-- WIND Mobile
-- WIRELESS etc.

BlackBerry PlayBook Specifications

-- 7" 1024x600 WSVGA capacitive LCD touch screen
-- Ultra-portable at less than a pound and less than one-half inch thick:
0.9 lbs (425g) and 5.1" x 7.6" x 0.4" (130mm x 194mm x 10mm)
-- 1 GHz dual-core processor
-- BlackBerry(R) Tablet OS with support for symmetric multiprocessing
-- MP3, AAC and WMA audio playback
-- Support for high resolution video playback (H.264, MPEG4, WMV)
-- 1080p HDMI output
-- Dual 1080p HD cameras for video conferencing and video capture (3MP
front and 5MP rear)
-- 1 GB RAM memory
-- Up to 64 GB internal storage (16, 32 and 64 GB models)
-- GPS, Orientation Sensor (Accelerometer), 6-Axis Motion Sensor
(Gyroscope), Digital Compass (Magnetometer)
-- Stereo speakers and stereo microphones
-- Wi-Fi(R) (802.11 a/b/g/n) connectivity
-- Bluetooth(R) 2.1+EDR support

About Research In Motion

Research In Motion (RIM), a global leader in wireless innovation, revolutionized the mobile industry with the introduction of the BlackBerry(R) solution in 1999. Today, BlackBerry products and services are used by millions of customers around the world to stay connected to the people and content that matter most throughout their day. Founded in 1984 and based in Waterloo, Ontario, RIM operates offices in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. RIM is listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market (NASDAQ: RIMM) and the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: RIM). For more information, visit or

(i) Check with each retailer to confirm pricing and availability.

Forward-looking statements in this news release are made pursuant to the "safe harbor" provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and applicable Canadian securities laws. When used herein, words such as "expect", "anticipate", "estimate", "may", "will", "should", "intend," "believe", and similar expressions, are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based on estimates and assumptions made by RIM in light of its experience and its perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments, as well as other factors that RIM believes are appropriate in the circumstances. Many factors could cause RIM's actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including those described in the "Risk Factors" section of RIM's Annual Information Form, which is included in its Annual Report on Form 40-F (copies of which filings may be obtained at or These factors should be considered carefully, and readers should not place undue reliance on RIM's forward-looking statements. RIM has no intention and undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.

The BlackBerry and RIM families of related marks, images and symbols are the exclusive properties and trademarks of Research In Motion Limited. RIM, Research In Motion and BlackBerry are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be pending or registered in other countries. Wi-Fi is a registered trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance. All other brands, product names, company names, trademarks and service marks are the properties of their respective owners. RIM assumes no obligations or liability and makes no representation, warranty, endorsement or guarantee in relation to any aspect of any third party products or services.

Contacts: Media Contact: Brodeur Partners (PR Agency for RIM) Marisa Conway 212-336-7509 Investor Contact: RIM Investor Relations 519-888-7465

SOURCE: Research In Motion

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From: teevee3/24/2011 1:07:49 PM
   of 1362
RIMM's QNX is now offering Qt.

The latest Qt release 4.7.1 is available on QNX SDP 6.5. Qt expands our HMI and graphics portfolio with exciting new functionality that lets developers and UI designers work together to rapidly create rich, fluid UIs and applications for any Qt platform.

The benefits of Qt on QNX are:

Ability to re-use existing Qt applications, and transition to the reliable QNX® Neutrino® platform — with minimal switching costs
Performs well on low and mid-end platforms allowing re-use of existing hardware
Open source and availability of source code — proven across many platformms
Added reliability and advanced Sandbox protection that comes with QNX Neutrino RTOS

Qt is compatible with POSIX-compliant OS and highly modular — reduces integration costs and size of thee code community support and flexible licensing options provides support for Open GL ES hardware acceleration. Qt is used in many day-to-day applications and is an ideal solution for the Medical, Automotive, Industrial, Defence and Aerospace industries. Practically any embedded device where visually compelling HMI is a key differentiator and reliability is paramount will benefit from the QNX/Qt solution.

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From: teevee4/27/2011 11:57:53 PM
   of 1362

Certicom Shareholders OK RIM Buyout
Research In Motion finally is set to buy Certicom for about C$132 million (US$105 million) after the mobile security company's shareholders approved RIM's second, much higher offer.
The BlackBerry maker bid C$1.50 per share for Certicom in a hostile takeover attempt in early December. RIM said the two Canadian companies had talked about a buyout but hadn't been able to have a "meaningful dialogue," so it took the offer directly to the company's shareholders. Certicom said the bid was too low and asked its shareholders to reject it. The company also asked the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to block the offer, saying RIM had breached nondisclosure agreements in preparing it. The court agreed with Certicom.
Subsequently, Certicom accepted a C$1.67 buyout offer from VeriSign in January. But on Feb. 3, RIM upped its bid to C$3 per share in cash. Certicom paid a C$4 million termination fee to VeriSign and accepted the new offer.
RIM is based in Waterloo, Ontario, and Certicom in nearby Mississauga. Certicom specializes in elliptic curve encryption software, which RIM already uses in its BlackBerry system. Owning the company could save RIM money or help it integrate the technology more deeply in its products and drive future development. The elliptic curve technology meets the standards of the U.S. National Security Agency, which could help RIM sell BlackBerry devices in some government accounts.

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To: Eric L who wrote (64)5/20/2011 4:59:57 PM
From: stockman_scott
   of 1362
RIM stock: the next Palm?

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To: stockman_scott who wrote (68)6/14/2011 11:26:04 PM
From: engineer
   of 1362
How long can RIMM continue to set new 52 week lows. they have set one just about every day for the last 3 months. From 70 to 35 in 3 months.

There are so many troubling things with RIMM right now. they are still a one stop shop with no new form factors, no real hard industrial design changes or new features. No software upgrades for existing models, just about no progress while they play with playbook, a BIG diversion from the smartphone market. I do NOT want to carry some other device along with my blackberry just to accept a Linkedin invitation or to follow a quick email link. So they pass on the next form factor and go with their own OS and own apps.

they are spending all their efforts on this new Playbook, yet the playbook is not selling.

they did not go to CTIA, even though they were less than a month away from Launch of hte playbook. I saw almost no Blackberry things at CTIA at all.

The browser on the present offered models is still woefully inadequate and does not allow the user to access much of anything without some net error. Why there is no software update for these things is beyond me.

the patents expire soon and there is no sign of anything new with the one trick pony. the email empire will come down, as there were at least 5 new competitors at CTIA which had both device independence and email server independence.

the two incumbent CEOS have been very quiet for way too long and there is no plan on how they will innovate out of hte flaming jet nose dive the stock is in now. We have heard no good forward looking plans which can turn this around. Just more bad news.

now this week they have gotten a few class action suits for the 50% haircut, the board has opened the vote to spearate the chairman from the CEo role.

Somebody has to step up and take the heat and make a move. Any move.

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To: engineer who wrote (69)6/15/2011 12:40:05 PM
From: stockman_scott
   of 1362
Secrets From Apple's Genius Bar: Full Loyalty, No Negativity

The Wall Street Journal
JUNE 15, 2011

Steve Jobs turned Apple Inc. into the world's most valuable technology company with high-tech products like the iPad and iPhone. But one anchor of Apple's success is surprisingly low tech: its chain of brick-and-mortar retail stores.

A look at confidential training manuals, a recording of a store meeting and interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees reveal some of Apple's store secrets. They include: intensive control of how employees interact with customers, scripted training for on-site tech support and consideration of every store detail down to the pre-loaded photos and music on demo devices.

More people now visit Apple's 326 stores in a single quarter than the 60 million who visited Walt Disney Co.'s four biggest theme parks last year, according to data from Apple and the Themed Entertainment Association. Apple's annual retail sales per square foot have soared to $4,406—excluding online sales, according to investment bank Needham & Co. Add in online sales, which include iTunes, and the number jumps to $5,914. That's far higher than the sales per square foot and online sales of jeweler Tiffany & Co. ($3,070), luxury retailer Coach Inc. ($1,776), and electronics retailer Best Buy Co. ($880), according to estimates.

With their airy interiors and attractive lighting, Apple's stores project a carefree and casual atmosphere. Yet Apple keeps a tight lid on how they operate. Employees are ordered to not discuss rumors about products, technicians are forbidden from prematurely acknowledging widespread glitches and anyone caught writing about the Cupertino, Calif., company on the Internet is fired, according to current and former employees.

Behind Apple stores is Ron Johnson, 52, who J.C. Penney Co. confirmed Tuesday would become its new CEO in November.

Apple's retail success is fueled to a large extent by demand for the company's products. Retail analysts say many of Apple's advantages over rivals such as Best Buy are technical: It sells a single brand, has far fewer products and has only a few hundred stores compared to Best Buy's more than 4,000. As the company continues to expand, some analysts expect it to face more pressure to consistently execute good customer service. Some former employees say they have already seen the quality of Apple retail staff decline as the retail network has expanded and has fewer enthusiastic fans to choose from.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Still, Apple is considered a pioneer in many aspects of customer service and store design. According to several employees and training manuals, sales associates are taught an unusual sales philosophy: not to sell, but rather to help customers solve problems. "Your job is to understand all of your customers' needs—some of which they may not even realize they have," one training manual says. To that end, employees receive no sales commissions and have no sales quotas.

"You were never trying to close a sale. It was about finding solutions for a customer and finding their pain points," said David Ambrose, 26 years old, who worked at an Apple store in Arlington, Va., until 2007.

Apple lays its "steps of service" out in the acronym APPLE, according to a 2007 employee training manual reviewed by The Wall Street Journal that is still in use.

"Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome," "Probe politely to understand all the customer's needs," "Present a solution for the customer to take home today," "Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns," and "End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return."

Apple's control of the customer experience extends down to the minutest details. The store's confidential training manual tells in-store technicians exactly what to say to customers it describes as emotional: "Listen and limit your responses to simple reassurances that you are doing so. 'Uh-huh' 'I understand,' etc."

Apple employees who are six minutes late in their shifts three times in six months may be let go. While there are no sales quotas, employees must sell service packages with devices, according to former employees. Those who don't sell enough are re-trained or moved to another position, depending on the store.

Many retailers strive for good customer service and attractive store designs, analysts say, but few go to Apple's lengths in orchestrating every detail. Department store chain Nordstrom Inc., for example, provides little customer-service training and expects sales staff to learn on the job. With respect to store design, "most retailers take a prototype and roll it out," in contrast to Apple, which constantly evolves its stores' look and feel, said Brian Dyches, president of industry group Retail Design Institute.

Apple's success with its stores stands out at a time when many retailers have struggled. In 2009, when retail sales declined 2.4%—the first down year in several decades, according to retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners—Apple's retail sales rose roughly 7%. In 2010, Apple's retail sales, excluding online, jumped 70% to $11.7 billion, or about 15% of its revenues of $76.3 billion, handily exceeding the overall retail industry's sales growth of 4.5%.

Other retailers have tried to copy everything from Apple's in-house tech support to store layout. Best Buy acquired computer repair service Geek Squad in October 2002, a year after Apple opened its first store, but it has failed to reinvigorate its business. Best Buy's profit margin hovers at about 1% before taxes and excluding online sales, estimates Customer Growth Partners. In comparison, Needham & Co. puts Apple stores' profit margin at 26.9%.

When Microsoft Corp. opened its first branded store in Arizona in 2009, it took many of its architectural and customer-service cues from Apple, including hardwood floors, wide open spaces, free classes and one-on-one trainers. While Microsoft discloses few details about its retail business, analysts say profits are weak, in part because it is largely reselling computers by other companies whereas Apple sells its own devices.

Best Buy didn't respond to requests for comment. Microsoft declined to comment.

Though the stores are now one of Apple's offensive weapons, they were born as a defensive move. When Mr. Jobs returned to Apple in 1996 after being ousted 11 years earlier, the company was struggling. Its Macintosh computers were largely out of view at big box retailers like CompUSA, now owned by Systemax Inc.

Fixing Apple's retail strategy was a priority for Mr. Jobs because Apple's brand had become so weak that mass retailers refused to stock Macintoshes. While Apple was developing new products, Mr. Jobs knew they would have little impact if consumers couldn't find them, say people familiar with the situation at the time.

Apple soon experimented with having its own showroom inside mass retailers such as CompUSA. But Mr. Jobs realized it was impossible to control the experience at those retailers, these people say. Building Apple's own retail stores was a natural progression.

In 1999, Mr. Jobs recruited Millard Drexler, then president of Gap Inc., to join Apple's board and advise the company on retail strategy. With his input, Apple hired Mr. Johnson, Target's executive behind its signature line of designer household items, to run the retail business in 2000. Mr. Johnson is credited with developing the stores' in-house Genius Bar tech support and engineering their detailed customer service approach. Analysts said Tuesday that while his loss is significant, Apple's retail efforts likely have matured enough to succeed without him.

Many members of Apple's initial retail team came from Gap, which was viewed as a model because of its hip image and success with its branded stores—so many that people joked about working at "Gapple."

It was Mr. Drexler's idea to build a prototype store in a warehouse on Cupertino's Bubb Road, near Apple headquarters, say people familiar with the project. There, Apple masterminded a store layout that staged its products in a way that highlighted how they could be used, rather than the conventional retail method of stacking products by category.

People familiar with the planning say Mr. Johnson came up with the idea for an area dedicated for technical support called the Genius Bar. Apple's hottest products were placed in the front of the store while a dedicated section for kids was furnished with squishy balls they could sit on while playing with children's software programs loaded onto iMacs.

"People don't just want to buy personal computers anymore, they want to know what they can do with them," said Mr. Jobs in a video tour of the first Apple store.

Apple spent a year testing its concept before it opened its first two stores, in Virginia's high-end Tysons' Corner shopping mall and in Glendale Galleria in Glendale, Calif., in May 2001. A little over two years later, it had opened over 70 stores in locations such as Chicago, Honolulu and Tokyo.

At the time, electronics stores tended to resemble warehouses stuffed with accessories, pamphlets and cords. Apple, by contrast, chose an open plan with a clutter-free look, using natural materials like wood, glass, stone and stainless steel.

Wilhelm Oehl, a principal at San Francisco-based design firm Eight Inc., which has helped Apple with its retail designs, says Mr. Jobs taught them to constantly question themselves on whether their decisions make "the most sense."

Over the past decade, Apple's stores have become even more dramatic, from a location inside the Louvre in Paris to one located under a 40-foot-high glass cylinder in Shanghai.

Working for an Apple store can be a competitive process usually requiring at least two rounds of interviews. Applicants are questioned about their leadership and problem-solving skills, as well as their enthusiasm for Apple products, say several current and former Apple store employees. While most retailers have to seek out staff, retail experts say many Apple stores are flooded with applicants.

Once hired, employees are trained extensively. Recruits are drilled in classes that apply Apple's principles of customer service. Back on the sales floor, new hires must shadow more experienced colleagues and aren't allowed to interact with customers on their own until they're deemed ready. That can be a couple of weeks or even longer.

Harry Friedman, who runs retail consulting firm the Friedman Group, says it isn't unusual for specialty retailers that care about service to invest in similar levels of staff training. But Apple employees are typically fans of the company's products and are willing to learn, intrinsically making its training more effective than any others, he says.

Keith Bruce, 23, who worked at an Apple store in Virginia for three-and-a-half years until December 2009, says he was told the sales floor was a stage where he should focus on things he can do, rather than things he can't. If a customer mispronounced an item name, he was forbidden from correcting them because that would make them feel patronized.

Candidates for "Genius" tech support staff undergo more training in facilities world-wide, then are certified and regularly tested on their skills. Training extends even to language. Former Geniuses say they were told to say "as it turns out" rather than "unfortunately" to sound less negative when they are unable to solve a tech problem. People familiar with the matter say Genius appointments are often triple booked, so they are always swamped.

Apple store staffers are paid about $9 to $15 per hour at the sales level, and up to about $30 per hour as Geniuses, comparable to other retailers. Some Apple store employees, who aspired to move to a corporate position, say they left when they realized that such opportunities were rare. One employee in San Francisco is even trying to unionize and has set up a website and Facebook page demanding higher wages.

Apple now appears to be eyeing business customers at its stores. The company built specially designed "Briefing Rooms" into some stores and, earlier this year, rolled out a service called "Joint Venture" to provide a separate program for business customers. In a recent meeting for retail managers, Mr. Johnson called these services among the "pillars for retail for the next decade," according to a person who attended.

What hasn't changed is Mr. Jobs's interest in the stores. He has provided input on details down to the type of security cables used to keep products leashed to the tables, according to a person familiar with the matter. When the CEO grappled with a liver transplant two years ago, a person who visited him at the time said Mr. Jobs was poring over blueprints for future Apple stores.

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