Apple wants you to spend longer in its stores
That's what Apple claims to have done in its new flagship San Francisco store.
Opening on Saturday morning to the public, it's intended to be something new.
It's no longer a store, it's the town square. At least according to Apple's retail head, Angela Ahrendts.
In San Francisco, the town square -- Union Square -- is right next to this Apple store.
Why would Apple prefer that you meet people inside the Apple store, rather than in Union Square?
In the latter, there are cakes, ice creams and sometimes pulsatingly painful art. In the Apple store, there are simply gadgets, tables, stools and many, many people. Oh, and now a few trees.For some time now, Apple stores have been known for their cacophonies of sound and their sheer sweaty stickiness.
They were places where -- at least for me -- you went inside to get your business done as quickly as possible and then leave before you needed a shower.
Apple happens to be an extremely popular brand, with very high levels of in-store customer service. So everyone with a gadget problem or just nowhere else to go would enter to buy an iPhone, fix a MacBook or just quickly check email.
Ahrendts and her design team have created more space inside the stores. I experienced the first US prototype in Corte Madera, California, a few weeks ago. There was definitely more air to breathe. It was easier to talk to a Genius sitting side-by-side, rather than across a table.
But was it enough to make Apple stores actual meetings places?
And why would Apple want that anyway? Because the stores aren't making the profits they used to? Apple stopped presenting retail sales figures last year. That's rarely a sign of growth.
Perhaps the company wants to create an additional layer of emotional commitment to the brand.
Perhaps, instead of fanpersons thinking of Apple stores as places they worship -- loyally lining up outside for the launch of the latest iPhone -- Apple wants fans to feel more a part of the actual store.
Church is pass?. Apple is the secular religion of tomorrow.
Ahrendts told The New York Times that the new Apple stores are intended to host the coming generations who have grown up on sharing and communing (and selfies).
"The next generation just wants to flow," she told the Times.