Author and former journalist Carmine Gallo has been studying how Apple Stores operate. His research has uncovered a fascinating procedure designed to entice customers to physically touch the products: In the mornings store staffers use an iPhone leveling app called "Simply Angle" to precisely set each laptop's screen at 70°—purposely an "off" angle that is not ideal for viewing, so that a customer will touch the screen to adjust it.
That simple act—reaching out to touch, and manipulate, the object with one's own hands—is meant to kick off a relationship with the object. You touch it. You physically come into contact with it. And eventually, the thinking goes, when you see how easy and pleasant it is to use, you will want to own it.
The same is true of how the iPad is displayed. As Gallo explains in a Forbes article,
The first time I brought my two young daughters into an Apple Store, a sales associate (Apple calls them 'specialists'), encouraged my girls to touch and play with an iPad. Once he showed them how to use a Disney Princess coloring app, it was over. My girls didn't want to leave and to this day they want to go to the Apple Store every time we visit the mall. The Apple Store made a connection with my daughters because they made it easy for them to touch the products, encouraged them to do so, and let them play with the products for as long as they wanted.
Walk into a 'big box' retailer and you often find the opposite scenario. The devices are turned off and the screens are black. It should be no surprise that some of these retailers like Best Buy are in financial trouble and looking for ways to improve the customer experience. They might start by visiting an Apple Store. As I was writing this column, I realized that my daughters have never asked me to take them to Best Buy even though I've purchased items for them at the store several times. But they want to return to the Apple Store just to play with the devices. You see, Apple has learned what many other businesses are just beginning to figure out—make it fun for people to connect with your product using all their senses.
In the following video Gallo explains, among other things, an interesting paradox: Apple Stores are successful at selling things in part because they are not designed to sell things.
It all makes sense when you think about Apple's philosophy. They do not design things to compete with other products. Instead hey look at areas where people need some type of technological assistance, then design products to meet those needs with a minimum of technological hassle. They design experiences. And good experiences often start with physical touch.