Apple’s store honcho, Angela Ahrendts, and design honcho Jonny Ive have collaborated to create a new church of Apple, a new mecca of sunlight and life to shroud Apple’s metallic, electric devices. Gone is the Genius Bar. Now it’s a Genius Grove. Aisles are spacious and tree-lined. Trees?
Yep. Trees. In an Apple Store. This is the new church of Apple.
Marble In The Bank
Design esthetics apply to retail stores, too. Go into a bank and what do you see? Marble, steel, and security. Go into a car dealership and what do you see? Shiny showrooms and large, simple open facia on the front.
Apple’s retail stores set the standard for appearance and usability, but were easy to copy. Look at Microsoft’s Stores. Other than a lack of customers (heathens who fail to worship there), what do they look like? Apple Stores. Go to Best Buy? What do you see? Half a dozen Apple-like store-in-store sections for Microsoft, Samsung, and Google that all look and work much like little mini-Apple Stores.
Apple’s newest store just opened this weekend at Union Square in downtown San Francisco. Let’s call it the new Church of Apple because it marks a departure from the old way of worship. The front doors are huge. They were huge before. But these are really huge. Like a Trump sign on top of a building-huge.
The Genius Bar is now Genius Grove complete with plants and seating. The Forum area has seating and a 6k Vidoe Wall which will bring in musicians, gamers, artists, photographers– all of whom love Apple products. The San Francisco Union Square store features The Plaza which is open 24/7 and has free Wi-Fi and places to relax.
Like Starbucks but without the coffee.
The Feel, Boss. The Feel.
The new store design is at once familiar but inviting, open and spacious, yet comfortable and warm; more inviting that Apple shrines elsewhere (I love the Apple Store on Regent Street in the U.K.; a close favorite to the Store at the Louvre in Paris).
How is that not like a church?
In an era where electronic products are commodity items Apple seems to have doubled down on the premium end of the space. Think about the cost associated with such retail outlets? No other technology company spends that kind of money upfront or ongoing simply to create an attractive space to showcase its products.
Apple Stores add to the visible value of the brand. Brand is good. Comfortable locations to view products and get support are nowhere to be found among Apple’s competitors. Comparisons to religion, though, should be dismissed. We buy Apple products because they work better and feel better and provide a level of value and an acute user experience not offered by rivals.
But, damn this new church is pretty and inviting. And you wonder why Apple does not make an inexpensive Mac, iPhone, or iPad?