Apple’s (AAPL) glass-cube stores have become as familiar as Subway sandwich shops. But when Steve Jobs opened the first in 2001, the retail venture was expected to fail. “I give them two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake,” Apple’s former chief financial officer, Joseph Goldstein, told BusinessWeek in an article titled “Sorry, Steve: Here’s Why Apple Stores Won’t Work.”
Apple has 423 stores, as of March, and it makes more money in sales per square foot—$4,551—than any other U.S.-based retailer, according to EMarketer RETAIL. The stores’ success has a lot to do with their design, a fact not lost on Apple, which has patented its distinctive store layout, glass cube, and floating staircase in the U.S. The company recently won permission to apply for trademark protection in the European Union.