Knowing what I know about the old online store, this was a massive behind-the-scenes undertaking, but the result looks and works like what most people would have expected all along. (Someone should count the instances of “finally” in the headlines about this change.) The old two-site approach was like having separate rooms in a physical retail store — a showroom up front, and a sales room in the back. Now it’s just one room. (And in another subtle parallel to the physical Apple stores, the website now uses a shopping bag instead of a cart.)
“We redesigned Apple.com knowing that our customers want to explore, research and shop in one place,” said an Apple spokesperson in a statement. “The new Apple.com takes the very best of our existing site and our online store to give customers one simple destination to learn and buy without navigating between two different sites. We’ve also improved several of the site’s features to make shopping easier than ever for our customers.”
The updated website will likely make for an easier shopping flow – especially on smartphones – as there's less switching contexts between viewing and buying because everything's integrated. It'll be interesting to see if updating the store with new products will still require Apple to bring the store down, or if they will appear and propagate for everyone across the world like the new website did today. Probably a good change, but let's pour one out for Is The Apple Store Down.