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.
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.
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.
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.
With all the recentprotestsoutside Apple stores, you might think this placard-carrying duo was taking the Cupertino company to task about labor in China.
Nope: it’s a publicity stunt for a play called Robot the Rock Opera. Members of the merry troupe of the Planet X Players descended on the Cherry Creek Mall store in Denver to promote the upcoming play.
Despite the fact that it was the day of the new iPad launch, they were allowed in and given the boot (albeit cordially) by Apple employees after handing out a few flyers about liberating Apple’s robot voice assistant Siri from “slavery.”
Cult of Mac talked to writer/director Seth Iniguez Bertoni about how services like Siri are leading to “digital servitude,” whether Siri considers the work fair labor and how the actors got that mesmerizing silver sheen.
Apple's product shots come from real cameras, but that's not the whole story
Have you ever wondered how Apple gets such beautifully clean, crisp product shots for its various devices? Are they real photos at all? Or are they just computer-generated images? The truth is somewhere in between, and shows that Apple’s obsessive attention to detail carries over to everything.
We could subtitle this the “Steve Jobs” edition, his death in October gave rise to any number of oddballtributes and events. The most disturbing? The hatefulcrazy congregation of Westboro Baptist Church staged a series of protests in an attempt to mar Jobs memorials held in Apple’s home town on Oct. 19. The Kansas-based group announced via iPhone that they would stage a hate fest. True to form, they held up their nasty banners outside the Apple campus and at Cupertino High but were met with counter protesters determined not to let them ruin the day.
Microsoft opened doors on its first retail store in Northern California just a few steps away from an Apple store.
Apple employees at the Westfield Valley Fair mall in Santa Clara must have had a strong sense of déjà vu watching people camp outside waiting for the doors to open on Microsoft’s 4,000-square-foot shop today. The proximity is unlikely to go unnoticed, since the mall is about 7 miles away from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters.
“I feel bad for those guys in Apple,” said Blake Contreras, a 12-year-old from San Jose who stayed overnight so he could be first in line for the grand opening. “Microsoft’s having this big party and the Apple employees just have to sit there and watch.”