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The Genius Bar is a tech support station located inside some Apple retail stores, the purpose of which is to offer help and support for Apple products. Ron Johnson, the former Senior Vice President for Retail, has often referred to the Genius Bar as the "heart and soul of our stores". Employees are specially trained and certified at the Genius Bar. Their role is to help customers with Apple hardware and software. All in-store repairs of Apple products are carried out by "Geniuses", formerly known as Mac Geniuses. In September 2009, the Family Room Specialists were folded into the mix to handle iPod and iPhone troubleshooting. After its release in 2010, iPad appointments also fell under the Family Room Specialists. Apple now maintains two Genius Bar queues: Mac and Mobile Device.
The layout of a Genius Bar previously consisted of at least two 15" MacBook Pro computers, often mounted on "floating" stands. Employees now use iPads with similar software to check in machines for repairs. There may be other "floating" notebooks for iPod/iPhone troubleshooting, often referred to as "floaters". LCD screens behind the Bar play looped videos which offer tips to customers waiting for help. Stools can be found in front of the Bar for people to sit and chat with each other or with employees.
The "Red Telephone" sometimes seen behind the Genius Bar was a direct line to Apple product specialists, allowing for problems and questions too complicated for the in-store employees to answer. This phone is no longer installed in newer Apple Retail Stores.
The employees can also be viewed as the local representatives of AppleCare. They offer personal support when customers have problems or questions relating to their Apple products. Most services carried out at the Genius Bar are free. Non-warranty service (which is paid for by the customer when repairs are complete) is also routinely performed. In some countries, Apple has service depots where portable repairs (for issues such as accidental damage) can be completed for a flat rate. Most portable computer repairs and all desktop repairs are performed in-store, and completed overnight or within a few days.
Larger support teams are headed up by the "Lead Genius", who schedules workers, and handles customer service issues at the Genius Bar. The Lead Genius is assisted by the "Genius Admin", who is in charge of managing the administrative paperwork, organising the Geniuses' work and liaising with customers about their repairs.
Trainees (referred to as "GYO", or Grow-Your-Own Geniuses) are not certified, but trained for iPod and iPhone issues, and help out where needed before going to formal training and certification at one of several training locations worldwide, including Cupertino, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Sydney, Australia; London, England and Ireland.
The Studio and the iPod bar, two offshoots of the Genius Bar concept, are present in many new and renovated stores.
Pro Labs and Open Lab were introduced with the opening of the Apple Store on West 14th Street in New York City, while Pro Labs is also offered at the Sydney, Australia Apple Store and the Pudong, China Apple Store. Open Lab to date is only offered at the West 14th Street location.
Apple has also branded features in their iTunes application "Genius" that make musical suggestions based on the user's observed taste.
Microsoft has Technical Advisors. They are located inside Microsoft's new retail stores and help customers with technical issues from hardware to software.