Peek inside the just-opened Apple Store Upper East Side

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Once a bank, the building at 940 Madison Ave. in New York's Upper East Side is now a swank Apple boutique.
Once a bank, the building at 940 Madison Ave. in New York's Upper East Side is now a swank Apple boutique.
Photo: Shinya Suzuki/Flickr CC

A New York building that once housed a bank has been transformed into a pristine Apple boutique. The Apple Store Upper East Side opened Saturday morning, giving a swarm of shoppers a chance to try on an Apple Watch in the former bank vault.

There’s no question that when you walk into this store, it’s to buy something high-end and fashionable. Take a look at the Instagram photos taken during today’s grand opening.

Why I Want Apple’s iBeacon At Home

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Apple flipped a switch this week and enabled customers at 254 U.S. Apple Stores to get spammed with micro-location based promotional nagging.

The new system, called iBeacon, is a  low cost, low-energy way to achieve actionable “indoor GPS” in which “beacons” use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals to figure out exactly where you are and send messages relevant to that specific location.

I’ve written before that Apple’s larger iBeacon plan is brilliant, and it is.

But Apple Stores are probably the least-compelling iBeacon scenario I can think of.

Your typical Apple store is a glass box, a single room with a door in the front, a Genius Bar in the back and tables and shelves in the middle. It’s impossible to get lost in a regular Apple Store and trivially easy for customers to find any of the tiny number of products for sale. Also: Apple doesn’t do in-store promotional discounts except for one day a year (Black Friday).

Right now, you participate in the Apple Store iBeacon system by launching the Apple Store app (which I imagine most iPhone owners don’t know exists) and changing your iPhone’s settings to use iBeacon (which most iPhone owners don’t know how to do) and granting permission to get in-store promotions (which most iPhone owners probably have no interest in).

Once all that happens, iBeacon interrupts you to nag you about trading in your old iPhone, and offers help like Microsoft’s Clippy when you’re looking at a specific section of the store: “I see you are looking at iPads? Would you like to know more about the iPad?” (I made up the wording, but the intent of some iBeacon messages is identical to that.)

As a result, iBeacon in Apple Stores mostly annoys. I can think of a hundred scenarios where iBeacon could be incredibly great. But the greatest of these: My house. 

Just Like Apple, Tesla Goes To The Mall

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The future neighbor to your local mall's Apple Store.

GIGAOM ROADMAP, SAN FRANCISCO — Back in 2000, no one wanted to buy Apple’s products. Steve Jobs realized that potential customers needed to see and play with Apple’s offerings before they could be persuaded to buy them. So he launched a chain of retail stores in malls across the country. It was risky, but it paid off handsomely.

Now Tesla, the electric car maker run by Elon Musk, is trying to do the same thing. Instead of a traditional dealership, Tesla is building a chain of car showrooms right inside shopping malls.

To build out the chain, Tesla tapped George Blankenship, Apple’s former Vice President of Real Estate, who helped to roll out Steve Jobs’ mega-successful chain.

Did Apple Dodge A Powder Keg In Europe With Italian Warranty Case?

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CC-licensed, thanks to Andrew* on Flickr.

Although many EU consumer laws already guarantee twice as much protection, Apple can continue to rip off customers there by selling AppleCare extended warranties.

Lawyer Carlo Piana told Cult of Mac that although Apple lost its appeal over fines for unfair business practices in an Italian court, that probably won’t affect Apple’s stance in the rest of the EU-27, although consumer laws are “harmonized” across member states.