On a recent trip to Bluewater, I went to the Apple Store and found their iPhone displays to be prominent and well set up. There were about 15-20 iPhones on display and there was a steady stream of interested customers. At 9pm on a Monday night, altogether not to shabby.
Milling around the mall a bit further proved the stark contrast between Apple's and other retailers general strategies. The Apple Store (as most will know) is an uncluttered, clean shopping experience. Some issues with rude staff aside, I always have a good experience going there. This can not be said of Carphone Warehouse or even the O2 stores. Ubiquitous as they may be, they seem to fail because their lack of conviction is obvious. I don't know anyone who would buy an iPhone at one of those stores if there's an Apple Store nearby.
This picture proves it. This error message was displayed on their screen for over an hour (I checked back after taking the picture). The video was not playing and while its no "Blue Screen of Death", the non-playing video, the error message and the gaudy Christmas decorations made the contrast between Carphone Warehouse and the Apple Store very clear.
I say good on Apple for negotiating with a company that has over 1500 outlets, but they have some ways to go before they will sell as many phones as are sold through the Apple Store. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Apple's 12 UK stores likely sold more than all of O2's stores put together. Anecdotal evidence certainly seems to back up my assumption.