Apple to Showcase IPads in Stores, Streamline Operations

Apple to Showcase IPads in Stores, Streamline Operations

Apple plans to replace MacBooks with iPads at Genius Bars, streamlining retail operations while showcasing the tablet’s features to ward off competition.

Apple Geniuses will soon use iPad 2′s to help customers with repairs, according to 9to5Mac, allowing them to work on the go rather than remaining tied to stationary MacBooks.

Employees currently check customers’ warranties, diagnose problems and order parts using special GCRM software installed on MacBooks behind the counter. But Apple is reportedly outfitting iPad 2′s with the program as well, which would shorten Genius Bar lines normally determined by the number of available GCRM MacBooks.

Apple’s move to revamp retail operations comes after the company announced its “Apple Store 2.0″ initiative in May.

Among other changes, the plan recommended employees use iPads rather than iPods to take payments using Square’s credit card reader. Square’s device, which plugs into tablet and smartphone headjacks, allows Apple employees to forgo paper receipts in favor of electronic ones, streamlining purchases and returns.

Also, next-generation Apple outlets now feature iPad “Startup Session” kiosks scattered throughout the store to replace the paper signs that provided customers with information on all the Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s products.

Besides smoothing out store operations, Apple’s decision to switch from MacBooks and iPods to iPads may help showcase the tablet’s capabilities in the face of increasing competition.

The thin, powerful iPad continues to dominate the tablet market with sales at around 80 percent and boasts the most number of apps. Apple is even having trouble fulfilling orders, as the device remains popular months after its launch. But the company may need to promote its device even more now that Android competitors are elbowing in.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet may take a chunk out of the lower-end tablet market, as they cost a fraction of the iPad but include a wealth of media content. Fire customers have access to Amazon’s several million songs and movies, while the Nook promises Hulu and Pandora connections.

HP’s TouchPad fire sale also suggests there is a market for cheaper tablets, which threaten to undermine the iPad’s reign as king.

Using the iPad in its stores may also wow Apple customers and prompt them to stay away from competitors’ products during the all-important holiday season.

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