retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

There's been a lot of conversation in recent months, even years, about how Apple may have lost its mojo, about how Apple simply isn't the same company since the death of Steve Jobs.

But this week, most of the discussion of Apple has been positive. There was, for example, its
$37.4 billion in revenue during the most recent quarter - much of it driven by iPhone sales, which was seen as extraordinary in a quarter when smartphone sales traditionally have been soft. There were reports that the next iPhone, dubbed iPhone 6, will be out this fall, and that Apple has placed an initial order with suppliers for 80 million units,. The company seems closer to releasing an iWatch, which may be called iTime. Apple announced a new partnership with IBM that is seen as giving it greater potential within business markets.

But as I stand here in Portland, there is another factor that I think continues to speak volumes about Apple's enduring cool. I'm speaking to you from the front of the Microsoft store downtown, which is a very nice little store. Very nice. The only problem is that whenever I walk by it - and I do so pretty much every day, at a variety of times - there are never more than a couple of customers inside, and it often is empty, save for lots of employees.

I remember that when I was here last summer, I noticed the same thing … and that across the street, essentially in the basement of a mall, there was one of the smallest Apple stores I'd seen in quite some time, and it was humming with activity … crowded with customers pretty much all the time.

Well, when I got here this summer, I noticed something had changed. I got off the light rail train with my luggage, to walk up to the apartment that I've been renting, and I noticed that just a block away from the Microsoft store was one of the biggest and coolest Apple Stores I've ever seen - taking up much of one side of a block, glass on three sides, with a marble back wall that is gorgeous. One of the folks working inside told me that, in fact, this is one of the last Apple Stores that the late Steve Jobs had a role in designing.

More importantly, whenever I walk by this store - and I do so pretty much every day, when I go to Stumptown Coffee - it is filled with customers.

Last summer, I remember, the location was under construction, though there were no signs to indicate that it would be an Apple Store. But I'm sure at some level, the folks at the poor Microsoft Store down the street must've just shaken their heads when it opened, because if Apple was going to kick butt from a small basement store, there was no doubt that it would do even better from this sparkling new facility that already has become a kind of midtown landmark.

Apple may have seen some bumps in the road in recent times, but there's no question that it continues to have the retail thing figured out. The Microsoft store down the street may be nice, but this Apple Store, where I'm standing now, is totally cool … and totally busy.

That's what is on my mind, and as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

KC's View: