After recent reports of a secret summit, where Apple execs hashed out ideas to bring Apple Store sales of the iPhone in line with sales of iPads and Macs, 9to5Mac now claims to have unearthed an internal memo in which Apple management ask employees around the world for ideas for selling and supporting the iPhone.
"Do you have a great idea about iPhone?" the memo begins. "Do you have a thought about something that is missing in the store environment that would help bring iPhone to life?"
International Apple employees are invited to submit their iPhone ideas (rather pleasingly and appropriately, the company is quite happy for them to craft the ideas in work time) and says it will select a team of brainy candidates for an eight-week trip to California, where they will presumably be pumped for further nuggets.
Apple's internal memo. Picture courtesy of 9to5Mac
Predictable Apple-kicking reactions have included the usual "Apple has run out of ideas" to "Lost without Steve", but of course Steve Jobs, while vastly intimidating for a junior employee to approach, always encouraged collaboration. You just sometimes had to persuade him to think the idea was his own.
A new iPhone is sure to be on its way (read our dedicated rumour roundup for all the news on when the iPhone 6 or iPhone 5 will launch) but this is pretty normal behaviour for Apple, so don't chuck our your iPhone just yet. Apple has run similar projects in the past to get staff feedback on the Maps app, for example. What this does show is that Apple thinks it can improve the way it sells iPhones, and when you look at the sales numbers for the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, that's pretty scary.
Apple doesn't like the way that so many customers buy their iPhones through the phone provider rather than an Apple store; often owners of more basic feature phones will upgrade to an iPhone as part of their contract negotiations. That's good for Apple in a lot of ways, of course, and they will be exposed to the iOS apps and media ecosystem, a huge revenue driver for Apple. But it would like more control over the buying experience.
The whole point of Apple Stores, the reason they were instituted, is that Apple didn't like the way its products were being sold in generic box-shifting computing stores. If a customer comes into the Apple Store they get the whole Apple experience, not to mention being exposed to iPad and Mac hardware.
The iPod used to be the gateway Apple product, getting its foot in the door before the Mac barrelled through afterwards. These days it's usually the iPhone that establishes the beachhead in a household, but there's a better chance of that happening if Apple can control the way a customer first encounters the product line-up.
Not the real iPhone 6, sadly: just a (beautiful) mockup illustration by Arthur Reis