You’d think that Apple would have located its first retail stores where existing customers already live. Not true. A recently-released analysis of Apple product users shows that among the ten most-loyal Apple regions in the U.S., three waited at least five years before being rewarded with a store. The study by Experian Simmons shows that the metro area of Monterey-Salinas (N. Calif., #8) was store-less for five years, and Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo (Calif., #9) residents waited six years for an Apple store. Meanwhile, the District of Columbia, ranked #5 for Apple users, still doesn’t have a retail store. The Experian research was based on their vast marketing database, and the study ranked U.S. metropolitan areas by number of adult residents who own or use at least one of three Apple products—an iPod, iPhone or Macintosh computer. Not surprisingly, the San Francisco-San Jose (Calif.) region has the most Apple users, 32.3 percent among the region’s 5.2 million adult population. The region includes Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino. Other regions in the top 10 include Boston, San Diego, New York City, Chicago, Denver and Las Vegas (27.9 percent of Apple users).
Download the entire Experian report (registration required).
It’s long been known that one element in Apple’s selection of retail store sites is the number of registered product users within a region. Other factors the company uses include population, the presence of universities and colleges, average household income, nearby Interstate highways, and the overall use of the Internet. Obviously, the presence of superior-level retail malls and developments is another factor in Apple’s location search.
The DC region is nearly as loyal as #1 San Francisco: 30.1 percent of 4.7 million adult residents. But for the past nine years, Apple users have had to visit one of the seven stores in surrounding Virginia and Maryland to buy products or obtain Genius Bar service.
DC loyalists won’t have long to wait for an Apple store now. The company has confirmed that a store is under construction on Wisconsin Avenue NW, and will hold its grand opening this summer, nine years after Apple first store opened in May 2001. The store was originally delayed by a search for the perfect location, insiders say, and then by the economic downturn that started in 2008.
Beyond the top 10 loyal regions, there are several other high-ranked regions without an Apple store, including Baltimore (Md., #13), Charlottesville (Virg., #16), Boise (Idaho, #25), Lafayette (Ind., #36) and El Paso (Tex., #46). Baltimore is served by two stores in the far suburbs, while Lafayette and Boise are home to universities. Tipsters say a store will open in Boise this fall. But the other cities listed above have never been spotted on any listing of possbile store locations.
How far down the loyal list of 206 metro areas did Apple dip to locate an Apple store? Tulsa (Okla.) has the lowest percentage of Apple users in the study, just 15.7 percent, and it’s ranked #145. Apple opened a store at the Woodland Hills mall in June 2007.
The smallest region on the list was Glendive (Mont.), with just 9,780 residents, of which 13.5 percent are Apple users, giving it a rank of #178 on the list. The closest Apple store is 493 miles away, at Twenty Ninth Street (Boulder, Colo.).
The largest city on the list with the smallest percentage of Apple users is Charleston-Huntington (WV). The region has 912,277 adult residents, with an 11 percent share of Apple users, or nearly one-third that of top-ranker San Francisco. The nearest store is 222 miles away at West Town Mall (Knoxville, Ken.).
Overall, Experian says, 21.6 percent of adults own or use an iPod, iPhone or Macintosh.
Others regions near the top of the list without a store:
- #51 – Bend (Ore.)
- #54 – Bakersfield (Calif.)
- #55 – Gainesville (Fla.)
- #58 – Peoria-Bloomington (Ill.)
- #63 – Lansing (Mich.)
- #64 – Loredo (Tex.)
- #66 – Rockford (Ill.)
- #67 – Burlington (Vt.)
- #68 – Yakima (Wash.)
- #70 – Harlingen-Brownsville (Tex.)
- #71 – Columbia (SC)
- #74 – Eugene (Ore.)
- #75 – Waco (Tex.)
- #78 – Fort Wayne (Ind.)
- #80 – Green Bay (Wisc.)
- #81 – Mobile (Ala.) – Pensacola (Fla.)
- #82 – Yuma (Ariz.)
Regions further down the list that have an Apple store include:
- #87 – Syracuse (NY)
- #94 – Greensboro (NC)
- #99 – OKC
- #101 – Memphis
- #102 – Rochester
- #105 – Spokane
- #1110 – Redding
- #121 – Huntsville
- #121 Birmingham
- #123 Knoxville
This map shows the Index ranking assigned to metro regions, indicating the percentage of adult Apple users in the area. The red area covers the top 16 regions, in the range of 27.1% to 32.3%. The orange region covers 24.0% to 26.9%, rankings 17 to 32. At the other end, the dark green areas represent the lowest ranked areas of the country, from 8.8% Apple users to 12.4%.
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