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How Apple stores serve as monuments to Steve Jobs

As we mark the anniversary of Jobs' death, the popularity of Apple's products serves as living testament to his talent, and the nearly 400 Apple retail stores are a kind of monument to his accomplishments.

Apple's flagship store in New York City (Credit: Dan Farber/CNET)

On the first anniversary of Steve Jobs' death, the popularity of Apple's products is a living testament to his special genius. But it's not the just the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, and iPad that are his legacy. The hundreds of Apple stores are a kind of monument to his design and marketing vision and virtuosity.

With more than 390 stores in 13 countries, Jobs engineered a direct-to-customer connection and more than 1 billion people have entered an iconic Apple store since the first one opened in May of 2001. Jobs proved a multitude of critics wrong, who believed the retail store investment would never pay off. 

Today Apple's stores generate more money per square foot than any other U.S. retailer, and accounted for $16 billion in sales for 2011 from 327 stores. Between October 2011 to August 2012, nearly 300 million people visited an Apple store around the world, and 50,000 people a day belly up to the Genius Bar for assistance, according to Apple.

The crowd at the Apple flagship store in Sydney, Australia, prior to the iPhone 5's debut. Joe Hanlon/CNET Australia

Jobs' imprint is all over the stores. He fussed over many of the design details, and received patents for the glass staircase and other design innovations (see this New York Times interactive graphic for Jobs' patent citations). As reported in Walter Isaacson's biography, Jobs obsessed over what hue of gray to paint the store restrooms, the signature glass staircases and windows, and the stone used for the store floors that came from a quarry outside of Florence.

The digital store that was part of Jobs' disruption of the entertainment industry has sold more than 20 billion songs in the last nine year. The iTunes store is now available in 63 countries, and Apple now has 435 million accounts with a credit card attached. Going beyond music and video, the Apple App store is available in more than 150 countries and has more than 700,000 apps available. 

Jobs left a strong foundation for his successors to build upon, and will bea tough act to follow.

Apple store on 5th Avenue and Central Park during the original iPad first day on sale. Dan Farber/CNET
Apple flagship store in New York City Dan Farber/CNET
The bulk of the line to <a href="">buy an iPhone 5 at the Paris Apple store</a> wound back and forth between metal barriers.
The bulk of the line to buy an iPhone 5 at the Paris Apple store wound back and forth between metal barriers. Stephen Shankland/CNET
Apple Store Beijing
The Sanlitun Apple Store in Beijing. Apple
Apple Store in Amsterdam with the patented staircase. Apple
Apple Store Carrousel du Louvre, Paris Mikhail (Vokabre) Shcherbakov/Flickr
Apple store on Broadway and 67th in New York City following the death of Steve Jobs Dan Farber/CNET