A Geek Walks Into a Verizon Store . . .

So I walk into the Verizon store recently to get a new phone (Android, what else?).  This does sound like the beginning of a joke, but as opposed to doing "a geek walks into a store" joke, let me instead hold forth on what I learned from going there.  The Verizon stores, if you've been paying attention, have been changing, and I think we're seeing some trends in consumer electronics that they illustrate.

Anyway, so there I am in the Verizon store and there's some changes, a slicker look, and a helpful gentleman with a tablet he uses for data, credit cards, and sales.  I'm sure that you're thinking what I thought.

It's basically the Apple Store.  The more I talked to people the more all I've read about Verizon started to click.  They're evolving towards an Apple-like consumer electronics approach, with their wireless and related services, a bevy of technologies (including Apple technologies) and the whole "freed-from the-counter" approach to employees.  The experience was different from my last visit – as was the amount of space I had to wander around in.

Now before you think that Verizon is playing copycat – or that I'm accusing Verizon of this – let me step back and note something.  The Apple Stores, simply, are a pretty good way of doing business.  Verizon is just jumping on a good idea, an idea both started by Apple – but also part of current trends in consumer technology.

People don't want a hyperagressive environment, they want a helpful, personal one.

They want one where they can wander about on their own and do their thing.  Verizon also has upgraded their kiosks to provide more help at the store (reminiscent of what I saw at the GameStop of the future).

They want a good selection of technology, but they want it clear, concise, and focused – and they'll take some limits on what's available if it's all good stuff.

They want informed, geeky staff, without it being in-your-face or domineering.  They want friendly and accessible (which the removal of the whole stand-at-a-counter method helps).

They want it to work when they leave.  People may complain about Verizon (and we have here and will continue to on many grounds), but they carry some good products.

So the Apple Store got it right.  Verizon is following in their footsteps.  Microsoft has their store plans.  I expect the "Apple Model" to be spreading throughout technology.

More on that next column . . .

Steven Savage