Blogger Arnold Kim over at MacRumors published an interesting conjecture today -- that Apple is planning on eliminating the space-consuming inventory of boxed software at Apple Stores through an emphasis on purchasing apps through the Mac App Store.
The post provides compelling evidence of proof of this, including a quote from Apple's plans for the Personal Setup for Mac service which states that the employees who set up your Mac will "walk you through the Mac App Store." To me, the key point is in the next line, where it is stated that "boxed software also takes up retail space that could be used for higher profit items like iPad or iPhone accessories."
As a person who has been visiting Apple Stores since 2003, I've seen Apple moving in this direction for eight years. Early in the evolution of the Apple retail stores, there was an emphasis on boxed software in aisles of wooden shelves, as well as an in-house theater for training. Now there are very few shelves, most located in the back of the stores and with the majority of space devoted to Apple-branded software. Training is done primarily through One-to-One sessions at the actual tables where devices are displayed.