The news that Apple has recruited the current CEO of Burberry, Angela Ahrendts, as its new senior vice president of retail and online stores reaffirms what many already knew about the Cupertino company and acts as a clear indicator of where Tim Cook wants to take the business.
For the best part of a decade, Apple has been much more than a tech company.
It’s as much a lifestyle brand as it is one which engineers and develops technology products, as reflected in its moves into the music business, its focus on design and its sometimes cloying attempts to be at the centre of what Steve Jobs referred to as ‘the liberal arts’.
Whereas Apple’s last retail boss, former Tesco and Dixons man John Browett, was largely experienced in tech, Ahrendts is much more focused on the lifestyle side of things.
She has overseen massive growth at Burberry and brings something completely different to Browett, who was driven from the company after his cost-cutting approach backfired.
In going for someone from outside of the tech world, Apple is showing that it simply isn’t bothered about the world of competitive spec sheets and hardcore tech fans.
Yes, it’ll still deliver tech savvy kit, but selling it well and selling it by the bucketload is far more important to Cook and co.
After all, that’s what brings in the bacon.
It’s hard to imagine the likes of Samsung or HTC making such a move.
These are companies who are keen on the celebrity ambassador, but don’t appear to want to try something different.
Apple is the only company where this kind of gambit would work, especially in terms of retail.
Its shops remain key destinations for current iPhone and iPad owners, not to mention those desperate to join the iOS revolution.
What Ahrendts will doubtless bring is new vigour in emerging markets.
Apple is desperate to break China, something that Burberry has already managed.
The clothing brand already has over 70 stores across the world’s fastest growing market.
Apple has just eight (not counting the counterfeit outlets which seemingly sit on every street corner in towns like Xian and Chengdu).
It’s also refreshing to see Apple recruiting women to senior positions.
For too long now, tech has been the domain of men in high-waisted slacks and button down shirts who struggle to relate to women’s experiences in the sector.
This appointment can hopefully help change perceptions. Whatever happens, this move could reinvigorate Apple’s business in the next few months.