Angela Ahrendts and the Apple Store premium experience

Katie Benner, writing for the New York Times:

Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, got a private demonstration of the fancy wireless speaker, the Phantom, and its sound quality seven weeks ago. On the spot, she said she wanted the space podlike device, which starts at $1,990, to be sold in Apple’s retail stores.

“She moved incredibly fast, from our first meeting to figuring out how the Phantom would be displayed,” Quentin Sannié, the co-founder of Devialet, the French audio company that makes the white and chrome speaker, said of Ms. Ahrendts.

This week, the Phantom will appear in 14 Apple stores in the United States, and the company is discussing how widely to roll out the product next year. The device will get the sort of prominent display treatment that is typically reserved in Apple stores for the company’s Beats audio accessories.

The move is an indication of how Ms. Ahrendts, who started at Apple last year, is changing the playbook at some of the iPhone maker’s stores this holiday season and the direction she’s going in: ultra luxe.

Interesting direction. Clearly, ultra luxe is in Angela Ahrendts’ DNA, given her previous experience running luxury brand Burberry. Apple Stores have always leaned toward the minimalist, with the focus squarely on Apple products. Over time, third party products have had less and less a role in impacting “main aisle” experience.

Apple has traditionally sold the most expensive accessories online only, like the $2,700 B&O BeoPlay A9 MKII speaker. “I asked Tim a very simple question: Why do we do it this way?” she said of her boss, Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive. Mr. Cook told her he didn’t know, she said.

Surprising that this tidbit would be revealed publicly. I wonder if there’s more context there. Regardless, it will be interesting to see if there is a shift coming to the Apple Store, a move to add a luxury vibe to the Apple Store shopping experience.