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Apple Stores will look totally different in May — and it could unlock the company's fastest-growing money stream yet, retail chief says

Tim Cook with Apple employees
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Tim Cook with Apple employees

Apple's new store in Dubai is one of the first of a complete retail overhaul — one that will make the tech giant the new Starbucks, Angela Ahrendts, Apple's senior vice president of retail, told "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday.

The new store format will have spaces for classes and meetings, new screens and hardware, and "Genius groves," a tree-lined area where the "Genuis Bar" once was. In addition to traditional IT services, creative professionals like photographers will also be on-site, Ahrendts said.

It comes as Apple's services business — including the app store, Apple Music and Apple Care — have become a faster-growing source of money than the flagship iPhone.

Ahrendts said that critics of CEO Tim Cook who fixate on whether iPhone sales are slowing
"probably don't really know the company that well."

"Tim talks a lot on the earnings calls about the services business, and how rapidly that's growing," Ahrendts said. "And that's the part we haven't been able to unlock in store yet."

Angela Ahrendts
Peter Foley | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Angela Ahrendts

The new educational programming at the stores will be called "Today at Apple," and is designed to put Apple Stores on the map as a meeting place for the next generation, akin to the coffee shops that have become de facto offices for many of today's creative professionals, Ahrendts said. While the idea of hanging out in a store may seem like supercharged capitalism, Ahrendts said Apple has always bridged the gap between selling products and creating communities.

"I think we've always been this energy hub, if you will," Ahrendts said. "We are just empowering teams to take it further."

"Today at Apple" will launch worldwide in May, with sessions in every store.

Some stores, like the iconic "glass cube" location on Fifth Avenue in New York City, are set to make renovations that are by now well-documented. But others may change overnight, CBS said, a transformation Ahrendts compared with the leap between the iPod Nano and the iPhone 6.

"The way we talk about it inside, is this is the largest product that Apple produces," Ahrendts said.

Late co-founder Steve Jobs, who closely supervised the original Apple Store design, still has an influence in the new vision, Ahrendts said.

"I think that anything you do at Apple you feel a tremendous onus. You want to carry on the legacy of what it meant ... the main objective. Our soul is our people, and our job is to enrich their lives — to change the world," she said.

Ahrendts, who joined Apple in 2014 after serving as CEO of Burberry, said that while she told Cook she's "not a techie," she thinks that she was chosen for the post thanks to her leadership skills.

"My dad used to say, 'I can teach you anything, but I can't teach you to feel and to care,'" Ahrendts said. "There's 7 billion people, it's not about you. ... When they open up and you're both open, you can dream and come up with incredible things together."

The full interview is at CBSNews.com.

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