While it may be having some difficulty shifting its latest iPhones, Apple has found time to fling open its stores and inflict hordes of excited schoolchildren on the "Geniuses" therein.
In what a cynic might regard as a thinly disguised plug for the fruity phone-maker's wares, the UK government announced that kind old Apple would be running almost 100 field trips over all of the UK's 38 Apple stores during November to "give young people the unique chance to meet and work with the creatives behind its ground-breaking innovations".
We contacted Apple to find out if design guru Jony Ive would be pitching up to explain to students what Apple actually considers "innovation" these days, but have yet to receive a response. We won't hold our breath.
The activity is Apple's contribution to the Year of Engineering, which it announced back in April. In January, it agreed a slightly different contribution in the form of £136m in back taxes would be handed to HMRC.
The 1,700 lucky students, aged from 5 to 18, will be tasked with creating their own digital projects involving coding and robotics and will be encouraged to "think like an engineer". According to Apple, teachers will also be educated on making the most of Apple tools and resources for use in class. It has, after all, a chequered history in the classroom.
In our experience, "think like an engineer" usually involves speculating where the next cup of caffeine-based beverage is coming from and how long one can reasonably spend looking at web pages before getting caught.
The big-hearted iPhone maker has also ensured that the tiny minority of students it is letting into its stores come from schools that "might not have previously engaged in STEM outreach activities".
The Minister for the Year of Engineering, Nusrat Ghani, demonstrated a fundamental lack of understanding of what an Apple Store actually is by saying:
"This is a real golden ticket opportunity for schoolchildren across the UK to go behind the scenes at the biggest tech company in the world," before hoping the experience would inspire at least some to enter the engineering field. As opposed to joining the ranks of Apple's Geniuses, fixing cracked screens or attempting to set befuddled users on the path to Apple enlightenment.
Apple's contribution aside, the government has signed up more than 1,400 partners, including Siemens and the Science Museum, to tackle an ongoing skills shortage within the UK. By the end of this year, the scheme intends to have delivered one million of these experiences. ®