As a testament to their success and a continuation of their marketing genius, Apple has now planted a boastful stake in the competitive and often cutthroat landscape of retail malls. At what is perhaps their highest profile store so far, Apple offers a refreshing yet contemporary atmosphere to display their product line at the Mall Of America.
Not quite abandoning their highly successful Think Different photo campaign, Apple favors a motif more reminiscent of their own Aqua interface in Mac OS X rather than the larger-than-life images of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Arriving early to the store, one is greeted, not by the brushed-steel security gates common to every other store in the mall, but by a black security gate resembling horizontal blinds. This subtle difference sets the Apple Store apart from the rest of the mall even before the dayis business!
The mini-blind pattern is repeated on glass partitions that separate various sections--or rather, creative disciplines--only this time in white. Now the motif becomes clear. The glass partitions are meant to resemble the subtle effect found on OS X menu bars. Each area is dedicated to fulfilling a useris requirement, from the "home" section, where iBooks and iMacs alike are setup with many models of digital cameras, to the popular "pro" area where itis possible to actually shoot and cut together your own iMovie or DVD. This store is made for wandering.
In the center, there are rows of fully stocked shelves of software and accessories. Never before has anyone seen such expansive "Macintosh" software isles. Even the games section is fully stocked.
Letis not forget the actual product line. Apple was certainly not shy about showing off their new G4 systems. The systems lined the walls or sat atop stand-up workstations. Each system was setup for different functions, and yet it was all astonishingly uncluttered. If there was anything that looked puzzling, or if one would even wonder about a feature or a component, a friendly employee would stroll up and offer an explanation. Of course, not every question has an easy answer. The Genius Bar was populated with experts. Behind them were humanityis OTHER geniuses--images from the Think Different campaign from years gone by. It was only behind the Genius Bar that the large black and whites were seen.
Taking up an important piece of retail real estate, the new Apple Store replaces the GAP in a very high-traffic area on the first floor. Apple is sure to become a fixture at one of the most frequented malls in the country. On opening day, the line to get in stretched down the stroll-way and around the corner, circling nearly a quarter of entire mall. Those who have been there know that this is a BIG PLACE. The first customers to enter were far more than casual observers. On a smaller scale, the line to the registers was similarly large as the shelves began to relieve themselves of games, accessories, and of course, Macintosh computers.
Randy Hanson is a freelance writer who attended the openening of The Apple Store at The Mall of America, snapping pics as he went. You can find him at TMOis Forums under the name caver01. This should be proof that hanging out in the TMO Forums can bring fame and fortune to you. ;-)