Apple testing new Genius Bar layout at mystery US store

In an effort to counter crowded stores and limited seating, Apple is reportedly revamping the in-store configuration of its Genius Bars, according to IFOAppleStore.com.

By turning the "bar" 90 degrees perpendicular from the far wall of the store, smaller Apple stores will be able to offer more bar stools to customers with repair needs or computer questions.

The kids' area, usually chock full of brightly colored chairs and computers with children's games, might also be sacrificed for the new layout, IFO Apple Store said. Apple recently replaced the iMacs at the kids' tables with iPads, which are better equipped for smaller hands.

Apple did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The new Genius Bars are expected to emphasise employees' use of iPads to manage service records, bringing the tablet even greater presence in consumers' minds.

Apple employs "geniuses" to assist customers with training in new purchases and fixing broken items, and has previously relegated them to the back of the store, behind the aisles of merchandise. With the new setup, workers would be more accessible, and able to wander around the bar, instead of behind it, to better help customers.

Apple is in the midst of enlarging or moving several early stores, IFO Apple Store said, increasing their size to accommodate more customers. Judging by the first photo of the new Genius Bar (above) – which offers at least 12 bar stools around a 10-foot long table, compared to the former seven in most stores – customers will likely find stores easier to maneuver, especially with their eyes darting between the store aisles and their new iPhone.

The new bar layout is being tested in at least one undisclosed store Stateside, but there is no guarantee that Apple will stick with the new system, or that it will eventually make its way over to the UK, where the company has London flagship stores in Covent Garden and Regent Street.

Last year, Ron Johnson, known for creating the "Genius Bar," announced he would leave Cupertino to become the chief executive officer at US department store J.C. Penney.