We stood in line when a new Apple Store opened (they don’t even call them Apple ‘Stores’ any more). We stood in line for a new version of OS X various cats. We stood in line when new iPods were released, a precursor of the iPhone for which lines were even longer. Those days are gone. Apple’s buzz is fading away.
Who’s. To. Blame?
There was a certain camaraderie to standing in line at an Apple Store in the mall. You were among friends. Apple provided bottles of water on warm days. T-shirts once were handed out to the first few hundred customers for OS X. Umbrellas were available rain or shine. Those long lines signified Apple’s success and arrival as a technology giant unlike any other.
When Microsoft opened their retail outlets in the same mall and down a few stores from an Apple Store, customers had to be enticed with concert tickets and freebies to stand in line. Not so with Apple’s customers. We are true blue customers who spend more per month, on average, for Apple products than any other technology gadget maker.
Yes, the times are changing. Apple has a handy ordering and pick up system now to reduce line waiting to a bare minimum. Apple Stores are not even Stores any longer; they’re Apple Union Square or Apple Williamsburg here in Brooklyn. The t-shirts are gone. The long and winding customer lines are gone. Even Chachkies are a thing of the past. Why?
Apple’s buzz is fading. Apple has gone mainstream. Apple is predictable. For better or worse, everyone has copied nearly everything Apple does that’s different, so Apple just isn’t as special today as it was, say, a decade ago, or even five years ago. In a land where Apple products are everywhere, is any Apple product really special anymore?
Once iPhone 4 and 4s hit the streets Apple began to work like, well, clockwork, and that means predictability. Tick and then tock. iPhone 5 and 5s. iPhone 6 and then 6s. iPhone 7? It’s a tick. But maybe not so much of a tick as a tock. Smartphones have become somewhat passé; everyone has one and they all look the same, even if they’re plastic Chinese Android knockoffs. They all look like iPhones.
I understand why Apple’s retail hostess with the mostest, Angela Ahrendts, did not want Apple customers to stand in line. That’s not what you do when you shop at Tiffany’s, and that’s what Apple has become; a luxury technology brand where you make an appointment to pick up a new product, and make an appointment to have it serviced, where devices are held like jewelry, caressed and encased to protect the goods from fingerprints and mishaps.
Apple carries a weight in the industry that is far larger and more influential than its product’s marketshare should; that’s the value of a luxury brand. But I miss the days of old when new was exciting and doled out by hand after standing in line for an hour among friends.