That experiment with chat and the education store must have gone well, as the public Apple Store has recently become a little chattier with the seemingly quiet introduction of a new "chat now" feature to its product pages. Interestingly, it appears (at least for me) only on Mac product pages, and only a second or two after the rest of the page loads (as if there's an intentional delay), though I don't see it on any software pages or even in the iPod sections. I had a quick chat with the 'Apple Expert' Rache, but I was quickly dumped once I was found out to be a mere blogger (helping to spread the word...) instead of a cash-in-hand shopper. Oh well, this still seems like a great idea. I hope it sticks around.
[Update: it seems only some users can see this feature. It might simply be a page caching problem (as in: try emptying your browser cache), but for now it might be the case that only certain users, regions or countries can see the chat feature.]