The Talk Show

353: ‘Shop Different’, With Michael Steeber


00:00:00   Michael Stieber, welcome to the talk show you I just want to say you made my week. Oh

00:00:06   Thank you, thank you I hear that you like the project

00:00:11   It can see it's like I think you you sent me a heads up maybe exactly a week ago like over the weekend

00:00:20   And you just sent me and shot me a nice little email and just said hey

00:00:23   I'm releasing this thing called the App Store time machine on Monday morning this that the other

00:00:29   Here's a link if you want to take a look before it goes live

00:00:32   And I thought that sounds like an interesting thing and I had like an idea in my mind of how

00:00:37   Good it was going to be which was maybe not quite

00:00:42   Minecraft II

00:00:44   But more on the level of like a Minecraft experience or something, right?

00:00:49   Right, and then I down I was like one point seven gigabytes

00:00:53   Hmm and I downloaded

00:00:55   And I was just like wow

00:00:59   I mean like if I had been wearing a hat it would have popped off my head

00:01:04   So tell people for the people who didn't see my link to it or didn't stumble across it anywhere because it was all over

00:01:09   The Apple Internet this week, but tell people what the App Store time machine is

00:01:15   Sure. So what I did is I

00:01:18   Recreated four different Apple stores at Tyson's Corner Stanford shopping center Fifth Avenue the original store

00:01:25   Not the not the current one and an infinite loop formerly the company store and all four of them are recreated to look

00:01:32   Exactly how they did on their grand opening days down to everything how the other tables are merchandise the graphic panels on the walls

00:01:41   And and I put this all together

00:01:44   I modeled it all and I put it in unity and

00:01:47   Added a first-person controller so that you can walk around the stores just like you would have

00:01:52   Except there's no people obviously. It's just kind of a cool way to

00:01:55   to kind of revisit those places and most of them are either gone now or

00:02:01   They look different with the exception of the company store at infinite loop. It's it's it's mostly the same yet today

00:02:09   Just obviously different products, but I was never around when the first Apple stores opened

00:02:14   I just wasn't following Apple at all at the time. So this was kind of a way from for me

00:02:20   Personally to visualize it but then also I thought other people might really enjoy it

00:02:25   When when did the Apple retail stores first open? This is one of the I should know I should know this but I'm gonna guess

00:02:33   2001

00:02:34   Yeah, the first two stores and this is something that that I've had a lot of people

00:02:40   Write to me or mentioned to me that like actually Tyson's Corner wasn't the first Apple store that it was a Glendale Galleria

00:02:49   But the first two opened on the same day in May 2001 and and they opened

00:02:54   Just a couple hours apart because of the time zone difference

00:02:58   so so it's always been like which one's the first one and

00:03:02   And there's some people that'll swear by that

00:03:05   It was Glendale Galleria and no matter that it opened a few hours later because it has the the rollout number zero zero one

00:03:14   Where Tyson's Corner is ten. So there are people that will argue that either way

00:03:19   But my stance is that Tyson's Corner is the first one. I

00:03:22   Feel funny as me John Gruber arguing over pedantic details and saying that somebody's somebody's being too pedantic

00:03:32   So I appreciate it. I think it's a I would call it a tie though

00:03:35   It's sort of a photo finish if it's the same day in there in different time zones, but what so what was the year?

00:03:43   2001 yeah, that's me thought yeah, that's what I thought I

00:03:46   I'm trying to think what the first was I was living in

00:03:50   Massachusetts outside Boston at the time and the one that was closest to to me and my now wife was in

00:03:57   Rockingham Park, New Hampshire and it was one of the first it was

00:04:02   So it's such a weird time

00:04:04   You know what?

00:04:05   Let's let's hold the talk on on the actual stories and let's let's focus

00:04:08   Let's keep focusing on your project for now and we'll come back to it

00:04:11   But I will say it's it's an inner it it's uncanny how much those that they feel like the original stores and

00:04:19   It's like I knew it cuz I've even I wasn't writing daring fireball quite yet. It was a year before I did but I

00:04:26   Obviously was still following Apple. I

00:04:29   Knew from my memory that a big chunk of the retail space in the original stores was

00:04:37   devoted to boxed software

00:04:40   Like I knew it I remember it and I know that that's one of those things that really dates

00:04:46   You know 20 years is a long time and it's like yeah, that's a big difference, but then

00:04:52   Using your app and again, it feels funny to call it an app. It feels more like a game

00:04:57   What do you think is an app or is it a game?

00:04:59   Yeah, I've tried to decide should I call it an app? Should I call a game? What do I want to say and I

00:05:06   guess it feels a little bit wrong for me to call it a game because there isn't really a

00:05:11   Strategy element to it and you're essentially you're just walking around the stores, right?

00:05:16   But so I think like a game might give people of our own impression

00:05:21   But yeah, it's it's not quite like on what you would normally think of as an app either. Yeah an experience

00:05:26   Sure. Yeah, it does feel a lot and it's funny

00:05:31   We had some family over earlier this week staying with us for a couple days here in Philadelphia

00:05:37   And they had some of my young nephews and we took them to some of the museums here in Philadelphia

00:05:43   I had your app store time machine in mind

00:05:46   It just seems like something built for a museum

00:05:49   You're right

00:05:49   Like the Franklin Institute here in Philadelphia has lots of stuff like that where you can like oh see what it's like to do blank

00:05:55   Right and it's like see what it was like to go to the original Apple stores in 2001

00:06:01   And that's exactly what it feels like it's yeah, I guess it's not a game because you don't play there's no score. You don't win

00:06:07   There's no competition, but it's not an app. You don't do it's an experience, but it is amazing and it's so

00:06:13   Different than say a video like if you had rendered built the same models

00:06:18   But just rendered out a video of walking through right because you could do it at your own pace

00:06:26   Right because like I'm sure you've watched the video of Steve Jobs introducing the first Apple store

00:06:31   And you kind of get the feel of the store when he's walking around

00:06:34   Tyson's corner there and showing each of the sections, but there's this added dimension when when you are controlling the camera

00:06:42   I think like that really puts you in the moment

00:06:44   Mm-hmm. Yeah, like for me I spent an enormous time just sort of looking at the box software

00:06:52   Because I was like it was it was funny. There was so much of this box software and it just the box

00:06:59   Yeah, the box software was was really funny to me when I was researching all the different titles because like there were there were actual

00:07:07   Books on the shelves like for dummies book. Yes. Yes

00:07:11   You know, obviously there was a Microsoft Office and things like that

00:07:14   But then there were there were a lot of apps from smaller developers

00:07:18   Which I thought was kind of interesting given the context that it was before the App Store and and and really how

00:07:24   Significant that would have been to have your title on the shelf of every Apple store

00:07:29   Which it's just kind of something I never really thought about before

00:07:33   Yeah, it was absolutely a huge thing and it was

00:07:37   completely unlike the App Store it was

00:07:41   Finite right and and I'm sitting here

00:07:45   emphasizing how

00:07:48   Dated it seems that they devoted so much shelf life to something that doesn't even exist anymore

00:07:55   It's not like they choose not to put box software on the shelves. There's there's no such thing

00:08:00   At least for Apple platforms, right?

00:08:03   I guess the last ret holdout for box software would be the dedicated game consoles a PlayStation Xbox and

00:08:10   and switch

00:08:13   It they couldn't put box software on the shelves if they chose to and it's never existed for the iPhone or iPad, right?

00:08:20   What do you what the hell would what the hell would they give you I guess?

00:08:23   Maybe like a lightning thumb stick. I mean, it doesn't even make any sense

00:08:29   But still even even with me emphasizing how ridiculous it seems that so much of the space in the stores was dedicated to box software

00:08:36   super limited right and tons of it went to Microsoft and Adobe and

00:08:43   Quicken and the big names of either some of them still big names today or at least the big names of the time

00:08:49   So so for the indie or smaller developers to get in there, it was super super prestigious and I guess good business

00:08:56   I don't know. It's it's a box software was always sort of a weird business to be in

00:09:00   the other thing that that was really striking to me in the in the oldest stores was how much space was devoted to

00:09:09   Third-party hardware, especially like camcorders digital cameras the the first stores predated the iPod by a few months

00:09:16   So there are actually third-party mp3 players on the shelf from from like the Rio

00:09:21   Can't remember the other names off the top of my head. But yeah, there were palm

00:09:25   PDA's just all this third-party hardware

00:09:29   that's that slowly disappeared from the stores and if you walk into an Apple store today and you can you really

00:09:35   Study the like the accessory shelves. There's almost no third-party

00:09:40   anything except for a few different iPhone cases like

00:09:44   Like five different MacBook sleeves or like they just have a very very small selection

00:09:50   Or is that like that was like half of the store?

00:09:53   Originally, yeah, definitely what I I remember from that era was it didn't take long

00:10:00   Obviously it was only a couple months. I don't even know if I

00:10:04   when I first went into when I forget when the

00:10:06   Rockingham one opened and there was another one closer to where I worked at bare-bones software outside Boston

00:10:12   Forget the name of the mall it was in but it was funny because they were identical. I mean like if you like

00:10:17   Kidnapped me put a hood over my head and then just put me in one of the two which I was familiar with

00:10:25   I wouldn't be able to tell you which one I was in because they were like identical which is a

00:10:29   Very Apple like thing to do but it didn't take long

00:10:33   for

00:10:35   Me to notice that like if you were walking around the mall

00:10:38   Where there was one and people would you'd hear people say do you want to go to the iPod store?

00:10:43   And oh, yeah, and I mean like super common like the way that probably more people

00:10:51   Called the iPod touch the iTouch then called it the iPod touch while the iPod touch was a thing

00:10:58   people called it the iPod store for a long time which was for me as somebody who loved the Mac and knew that the Mac was

00:11:05   The bigger deal of the things in there or at least it was in my mind

00:11:09   It didn't annoy me but it was like, huh?

00:11:12   That's really interesting

00:11:13   and then it made me think like now we're getting into the very early years of during fireball and people used to talk about the

00:11:21   Quote-unquote halo effect. That was the idea that hey, maybe the iPod is going to be

00:11:27   good for Mac sales because it's

00:11:30   Introducing people to any Apple product for the first time and then they're think hey if the mp3 player was really cool

00:11:39   Maybe I should take a look at one of these Macs and I just remember thinking anecdotally hearing people call it the iPod store

00:11:45   Yeah, maybe there's something to that. It doesn't just seem like a

00:11:48   Spitball idea it actually seems like something. I think it's interesting how much influence of the products

00:11:56   Have on what the store design has to be but at the same time how little the stores can really rapidly

00:12:03   Change to fit the evolving products

00:12:06   so like the original stores were designed before the iPod was announced and I'm guessing that

00:12:12   The majority of the retail team had no idea that it was coming and I would assume that the same was true with the iPhone

00:12:19   Given the secrecy which it was developed in and when you have physical real estate

00:12:23   All around the world and a product comes out tomorrow and it completely changes your entire business

00:12:29   like it's so much more difficult to

00:12:32   Rapidly redesign all of your stores than it is to just you know

00:12:36   And I'm oversimplifying it obviously but just to ship a new version of the iPhone for instance when you have

00:12:41   All of these spaces that are leased sometimes you can't like you can't just expand the store tomorrow because now

00:12:49   Your audience wants the new iPhone and before it was just a handful of people in there for max

00:12:55   I think it's part of the right person at the right time with the right team

00:13:02   and again, this is like a statement of the obvious Steve Jobs was a good CEO for Apple, but I do think

00:13:08   he had the right mix of a plan and a grand vision and

00:13:15   the flexibility to continue playing it by ear

00:13:20   day by day week by week quarter by quarter as the

00:13:25   Industry change as facts change as tastes change as technology changed, right? So it's not like oh

00:13:33   We've got this master five-year plan and we can't change blank because that's not on the plan. It's okay

00:13:41   Let's adapt right, but I I think it's extremely clear in hindsight that

00:13:47   Part of his master plan was number one. Let's fix the Mac and get the Mac without this

00:13:54   We're gonna go under we got to fix the whole Mac platform

00:13:56   We got to get a new operating system built for the future go from classic to Mac OS X built on the next

00:14:03   Technologies and build it taking the best of what Apple already had along with it

00:14:07   Let's fix the hardware which was a confusing mess simplify it with the famous four-way grid of

00:14:13   Pro and consumer laptop and desktop here. Boom. There's four max

00:14:19   pro laptop

00:14:21   consumer laptop pro desktop consumer laptop the iMac go from there, but

00:14:25   Once we write that ship with the Mac, we need new

00:14:29   products new platforms and

00:14:33   because otherwise the company has to grow and I think that was in mind with the

00:14:38   the retail plan from the get-go because one of the reasons people were so

00:14:44   Skeptical about Apple's retail plans was at the time laptops were not the majority selling computers because they were so expensive

00:14:52   Desktops were but desktops are super heavy. They were like the iMac

00:14:57   Was a CRT it was like I don't know

00:15:02   27 pounds right and it's like not exactly I know people that's what people did they go to big-box stores too or

00:15:09   Gateway stores or whatever people did buy computers and stores

00:15:12   But also it was sort of like when you go to a big-box store like Best Buy or whatever

00:15:19   You can buy something big and heavy

00:15:22   You check out and then you go into the parking lot and back your car up to the entrance and put it in the trunk

00:15:28   or whatever like

00:15:30   Doing the Apple stores in

00:15:32   Regular indoor malls was weird because it's like well wait if you buy an iMac, you know

00:15:38   And they had ways of doing it some of the ones I think at one point

00:15:41   We actually bought my wife and I Mac at a retail store and it you know

00:15:45   You could walk out with it if you want

00:15:47   But if you you know

00:15:48   Where are you parked what you can do is do this back your car around and there was like a back entrance

00:15:53   Like a loading dock whether you can move your car

00:15:55   But it just didn't seem if all they ever planned to do this is where I'm going is all they ever planned to do was sell

00:16:01   Max and the max were going to be the same mix that was current in the year 2000 2001

00:16:08   Retail space and malls did not make sense it did the to me the whole idea was things like the iPod

00:16:17   Things like the iPhone eventually, etc

00:16:22   Yeah, it's funny that you mentioned that with with the size of max at the time because there's a there's a video out there from

00:16:28   From grand opening day. It's from the Glendale Galleria opening and and there I don't know like it was produced by

00:16:36   Some marketing team within Apple, but and it's a it's on YouTube. You can find it there

00:16:41   They're talking to this family that like purchased all of these max

00:16:44   An opening day and they literally have like an industrial dolly from from back of house

00:16:52   Up front in the store when they have loaded on it like a big power mag g4 tower and CRT display

00:16:59   And it's this huge stack. I don't know how you would ever walk it out of this store. It's funny. Yeah, all right

00:17:05   I'm promising people. I'm putting it. I wrote it down on a piece of paper here

00:17:08   I'm gonna put it in the show notes Glendale Galleria opening day video all right

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00:19:12   All right

00:19:14   You said let's get the technical details out of here you built it in unity you say what does that mean explain that?

00:19:20   So unity is a game engine and it's it's a cross-platform game engine, but this app is just for the Mac

00:19:29   Theoretically, I guess I could bring it to iOS

00:19:32   But I honestly I didn't even try because I didn't figure like there was any chance that this would pass app review

00:19:40   I mean, oh my god. Yeah, I didn't even think of that. Okay

00:19:43   Yeah, so I didn't even I didn't even like look at like I would have had to modify the controls obviously for touch and everything

00:19:50   But I didn't even go down that road. So yeah, it's it's built in unity

00:19:54   But the the actual modeling of the stars is done in Blender, which is just a totally free

00:20:00   3d modeling tool and it's extremely powerful and all the texturing was done in Blender and then I brought those

00:20:07   Models into unity and I'm not I'm not a software developer by any means

00:20:12   So I just use YouTube tutorials googled stuff until I figured out what I needed to do to

00:20:18   To get a first-person controller working. I wanted to add some different interactions

00:20:23   so there are there are different computers within this each store that you can walk up to and

00:20:29   Like there's an iMac you can boot up. There's one computer that's running GarageBand and you can play a track on GarageBand

00:20:37   So there's different things like that

00:20:38   I wanted to to have in them in the stores, but I just kind of hacked away at it until I figured out what I

00:20:44   needed to do in unity to get it all working and and then

00:20:48   The result you can build apps directly in unity. Like you don't have to go through Xcode, but then they're not notarized, right?

00:20:56   so the only way to open it is to go into

00:20:59   System preferences and security and and allow it and it's kind of a mess. It's it's not really well

00:21:06   It's obviously not what Apple wants and it's not ideal really for any

00:21:10   user either

00:21:12   so I did go down the road of getting a Apple developer account and and

00:21:17   Then you can you can send unity projects through Xcode and and I had a little bit of help along the way getting

00:21:24   getting Xcode to then build the

00:21:27   unity project and then notarizing it so that I can

00:21:31   Distribute it without those security warnings. And again, I didn't I didn't try to put it in that in the Mac App Store

00:21:36   Cuz I didn't figure it would ever get approved. Well, you should try it. I mean at the very least so what I would say is

00:21:43   Don't waste your time

00:21:45   iOS of fine it because that would be a lot of work, but you should at least submit the Mac

00:21:51   I mean because you've got the Mac version right? So why not? I don't know I get what you're saying

00:21:56   No, it's so but this project is so off the wall like in terms of like I I it's it's unlike anything

00:22:04   I've seen I get it. It's like if I make just

00:22:08   Joe random app just to pull out any random app out of the App Store and you put an Apple logo in your app

00:22:16   It's gonna get and they see it

00:22:18   It's gonna get flagged and it'd be like you can't you can't put the Apple logo in your app

00:22:21   You've got the Apple logo in your app because as you enter an Apple retail store one one of the things that hasn't changed is

00:22:29   The only signage I believe right it's it's like the only signage they've ever had at any Apple retail store is

00:22:36   Just an Apple logo outside, right?

00:22:40   It's one of the cool things that people don't think about but it's like they've never said Apple

00:22:46   It certainly never says Apple Store. It's just an apple. It's actually

00:22:51   There's actually like at least one exception to that I can think of. Okay

00:22:55   So I don't know if this still exists, but it was like this the last time I was there

00:23:00   So if you in Chicago, if you go to Apple Lincoln Park, which is on the north side of Chicago

00:23:07   There is about a block away

00:23:09   from the store there is like a signpost where there's like

00:23:14   acrylic just like acrylic pieces printed and and and inserted for every

00:23:20   store in the in the upcoming block and

00:23:23   There's one strip of acrylic in there. It says Apple Store. It's the it's set in Apple Garamond and

00:23:31   I don't I actually I have no idea why that sign exists because that store opened I think in 2010 and I

00:23:39   Don't think Apple was using

00:23:42   Garamond and

00:23:44   Anything in 2000 time? No. Yeah, so so that's the one exception to that

00:23:49   I can think of that is kind of weird, but it's still I'm gonna say though that doesn't really count as signage on the store

00:23:55   Right. It's wayfaring. It's it's wayfaring signage near the store

00:24:00   That is that is curious

00:24:03   Like it makes me think that it was somebody not involved with Apple who thought they were being helpful and nobody at Apple ever

00:24:10   Noticed and it'd be funny if somebody listening to the show now is like what the hell are they talking about looks into it?

00:24:16   Oh my god, get that out of here. But yeah 2010 was clearly well into the myriad era of Apple

00:24:23   Branding typeface so that yeah, that's doubly

00:24:27   Weird. Yeah

00:24:29   I say you've got to try submitting it to the App Store and see at the Mac App Store and see what happens because the Apple

00:24:36   Logo alone might be the thing and it's just somebody who doesn't even like who knows I have no idea

00:24:42   What goes on with these reviewers who they are?

00:24:44   What what sort of mindset they have but if it's just somebody who doesn't even look at it and think hey, this is amazing

00:24:50   This is really cool. Maybe hadn't heard of it. But it's like this is super cool

00:24:53   Maybe they're just like going through the checklist and they're like up

00:24:56   There's an Apple logo flagged but I could see it also going all the way to every single bit of this is Apple's intellectual property

00:25:02   You've got no chance, right?

00:25:04   Right, but you've got the app right? All you really have to do the only effort it would take is these

00:25:10   Submission to the Mac App Store. I don't know I say you try it. Yeah, I mean I could certainly try it

00:25:15   One of the things I noticed looks right to me is the lighting

00:25:20   It's one of those things where feeling right is more important than technically being right. I think you nailed it the lighting Oh seems

00:25:30   right and

00:25:32   seems super tricky because like

00:25:35   Again, I like when I linked to it on daring fireball. I mentioned to people here's the basic idea

00:25:40   Michael has recreated four of the original iconic Apple stores and

00:25:45   It's like a game like experience walkthrough where you can go through like for example

00:25:50   I said like maybe it's more like Minecraft like minecraft doesn't I?

00:25:53   I'm not a super minecraft my son used to play but it doesn't seem to me like there's extensive lighting options in Minecraft

00:26:00   like you just sort of go through and everything is is

00:26:05   It lit with like a universal light source, right? Whereas in in your

00:26:10   experience the lighting is

00:26:13   Exquisite and seems realistic

00:26:16   Yeah, I had I had pretty much total control over the lighting

00:26:20   There's kind of two tricks that play and one is I probably didn't do it in the way that a real game developer would

00:26:27   There's no actual live

00:26:29   Dynamic lighting and shadows in the game. So everything is all baked in and all the textures have the shadows

00:26:37   baked into them and the

00:26:39   So the lighting in the scene is all coming from Plunder where I modeled it and and that way I had

00:26:45   Really precise control over how I needed to light each each part of the store

00:26:49   So like there there's different lighting above each table

00:26:52   there's lighting in the like the graphic panels obviously a backlit and

00:26:58   Then like on the newest star infinite loop along the displays on the walls the avenues

00:27:03   There's lighting in the top

00:27:05   like there's a an LED strip that runs along each one and

00:27:09   It it it's pointed a certain angle into the display so that it lights up the products on the shelves and that's all stuff

00:27:17   I had really close control over in

00:27:19   In the blender where it is. It would have been not only a lot more

00:27:23   CPU and GPU intensive to do it live

00:27:28   But I just wouldn't have had

00:27:30   That same control in unity and it made it a lot. It made it easier for me to to render the

00:27:36   the models in the store like the

00:27:39   the each individual iPod and and like especially in the older stores like the

00:27:44   Curvature of like the power mag g4 with with a lot higher detail because I wasn't spending CPUs cycles on lighting

00:27:53   The power Mac g4 is the one that was still like a plastic case

00:28:00   but instead of being the

00:28:03   Bondi blue of the G of the g31 that was like an iMac

00:28:08   It was more of a I forget what they called it like a slate blue. Yeah, I think I think they called it graphite me

00:28:14   Oh, that's right. Yeah graphite. Yeah, I'm not positive. Nope. Yep, as soon as you said it, it was definitely called graphite, which was

00:28:20   Well, I was gonna say perfect, but maybe there was a lot more blue in it

00:28:24   Then I would think the word graphite implies. But anyway, that's what they called it and you nailed it. It looks right

00:28:30   Yeah, it matched the the design of the g4 cube which was the same time so yeah

00:28:38   Let's pour one out for the g4 cube

00:28:40   Which which has sort of come back in spirit in my opinion with the the Mac studio

00:28:46   Which is sort of the it's the dream of the the cube which is the small footprint thing that you could put on your desk

00:28:53   I mean the footprint is very similar. Obviously the the new Mac studios

00:28:57   squatter then then right but

00:29:01   Unlike the Mac mini it is meant to be a pro level

00:29:05   Device and I know I'd say that knowing that Apple has spent actually the last few years

00:29:10   reiterating how many

00:29:12   Professionals actually use and love Mac minis, but to me the Mac studio is more in spirit. But yeah, that was definitely it

00:29:19   Beautiful. I mean seriously, I mean the Mac cube is like even though

00:29:25   everybody in technology

00:29:28   Looks back and says one of Apple's rare failures, but there it is in the Museum of Modern Art. I just love that

00:29:35   Here's this thing universally hailed as a failure. Yeah, and it's in the Museum of Modern Art

00:29:40   What were you saying the g4 cube? I actually used as like the the base for the

00:29:47   Time machine in the there's like an intro video loop that plays when you boot the app and I use the the g4 cube to

00:29:55   Kind of represent the time machine that your engine into I tried to create like a backstory so that you

00:30:01   That you weren't just thrown into these Apple stores out of nowhere

00:30:05   like why am I here what's going on and and I guess that is kind of a

00:30:09   Gameplay element, but I wanted there to be context to the time machine and like why does the entire UI look like?

00:30:17   aqua from Mac OS 10, right so so like the the the story

00:30:22   Behind it is like here's like a modified

00:30:26   Power Mac g4 cube it's running time

00:30:30   OS and and there's like a boot sequence and then you are entered into this like

00:30:38   alternate reality when the the intro video plays from

00:30:42   From Mac OS 10 and then then you're left on the main menu. So so it was kind of a

00:30:48   when I started the project I

00:30:51   was originally going to just have the Tysons corner model and then and it kind of just it got out of hand and I added

00:30:58   Three more stores. So so that's why that's why I used the aqua interface because it matched the air of the store

00:31:05   But then when when I started adding more stores, I'm like, well, I really need a reason for this interface

00:31:11   So that's kind of how that came about. I

00:31:13   say there's a long glorious history and future of

00:31:19   great

00:31:21   Labors of love that involved the phrase it got out of hand

00:31:25   And then it got out of hand, right?

00:31:29   Yeah, I am I to me the

00:31:34   conceit the rapper of the of the experience is sort of like what if Doc Brown from

00:31:42   Back to the future instead of building a time machine to transport

00:31:46   humans and dogs through time physically in a DeLorean

00:31:50   What if he instead of Jerry rigging a DeLorean? What if he Jerry rigged g4 Mac cube to take you back?

00:31:58   right

00:32:00   2001 Apple stores, it's I just can't stop laughing

00:32:03   At this and I just love and then it got out of hand because that is it just seems so obvious to me that that's what?

00:32:10   happened I when I when I got the idea because you sent me that email and

00:32:14   I got the pre I got the preview link and I was like blown away

00:32:18   I'm like, I am definitely gonna link to this but then I thought wait

00:32:21   This is not enough I cuz I have questions and I started asking them and then I thought you know

00:32:26   what I should get this guy on the podcast because

00:32:29   Take for you take forever an email and then it's not out there for the world. But like what did you do?

00:32:34   This is one of the first questions I asked you by email, but I gotta ask again. What did you do to get?

00:32:40   like the the dimensions of these stores

00:32:44   like you so

00:32:47   Yeah, this that was that was really tricky. So I

00:32:50   as

00:32:52   You can imagine like I searched for building permits. I

00:32:55   All right, you say that I I can't imagine but that does not seem like the obvious answer

00:33:01   The obvious answer is always to half-ass it

00:33:04   Right, but all right you start you're searching for building permits

00:33:08   right, I searched for like mall lease plans because sometimes like even if Apple's not in the same spot in the mall like they'll have

00:33:17   The the footprint of the store like the square footage and then I could work from there. I looked well, there are some

00:33:24   Some dimensions like that. I

00:33:26   there are some dimensions that I just knew and I mean, I

00:33:31   Don't know how much I want to say like I happen to know like the

00:33:36   Okay of the graphic panel at Apple Fifth Avenue. So like that was a good

00:33:43   Start like it's only one dimension

00:33:45   but that was like a really good starting to mention for me to

00:33:48   kind of figure out the rest of the store from and and I know like the exact dimensions of a standard Apple store table like the

00:33:55   thickness of the wood and

00:33:57   Things like that. So like I was able to use like a few

00:34:00   Known dimensions and then like work backwards from there and and like there are a couple

00:34:06   there are a couple of published numbers out there like if you go to I believe when the when the cube opened like there was a

00:34:13   Page where like it listed like the exact dimensions of the cube

00:34:17   I think like maybe one of the engineering firms that Apple worked with like published a summary of like the work they did and

00:34:23   So like there were a couple things I was able to use and and that's the for context

00:34:29   That's the Fifth Avenue New York iconic Apple store. Not the g4 cube the the right. Yes up on the Fifth Avenue

00:34:36   Okay, so they publish something about the cube itself the actual glass structure

00:34:41   Yeah, so and and really the glass structure was kind of well

00:34:46   I didn't want to go down the rabbit hole of like

00:34:49   3d modeling downtown Manhattan, so I

00:34:53   Don't I don't let people walk up and outside of the cube, right? But it's up there

00:34:59   Yeah, because otherwise now you're now you're building an entire

00:35:03   recreation of Bergdorf Bergdorf Goodman across the street, right and I need the GM building and all that

00:35:10   so for

00:35:12   Context personally would your background is that you also you?

00:35:17   How you got into this and maybe how you got some figures for some of these things like the details of certain panels or the tables

00:35:24   Is that you have been a reporter?

00:35:26   For at least for 9 to 5 Mac on the Apple retail beat. Maybe you've written elsewhere. I

00:35:34   Actually, I guess I should know but you know

00:35:37   So you have sources in retail and and as I like to call them little birdies who maybe have given you information

00:35:43   Over the years or something like that. It's not like you came to this without any

00:35:47   Relationships whatsoever

00:35:50   Yeah, I've just I've been studying Apple retail really since

00:35:54   2017 is like when I really got into it like day to day and

00:35:59   So I've just kind of built this database of knowledge about about Apple stores

00:36:05   I have a album in photos on my phone that has pictures from from all the store visits that I've

00:36:12   that I've done and it's it's it's a lot of visits and if you

00:36:17   There's there are I'm gonna just check right now. Let's see the Apple store album in photos has

00:36:24   14,200 photos in it so and that's all photos taken in and

00:36:31   Outside Apple stores. So like when it came time to to build these models

00:36:36   I had this like huge collection of assets for things like what what is the material of the floors?

00:36:42   What what type of wood is there and I was able to build these textures for 3d modeling based on this this huge

00:36:49   library of material that I already had

00:36:51   All right, let me take another break here and think our next sponsor is our good friends at

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00:39:17   talk-show

00:39:19   That's memberful.com slash talk-show and you can get started. How long how long did you spend working on this project Michael?

00:39:26   Do you want and if you would prefer not to answer that question, you can just say pass so

00:39:33   So, okay

00:39:35   So this project actually began with a smaller project I did while I was at 9 to 5 Mac and that was for the 20th

00:39:44   anniversary of Apple retail stores and I built I built what was really the

00:39:50   fundamental model of Tyson's Corner

00:39:52   Way back then it was a it was a simplified version of it

00:39:56   The the products in the store were modeled in a lot less detail the textures were a lot lower resolution and I made it a

00:40:04   USDZ like an AR quick look file and

00:40:07   And I published that when I published a big feature article about 20 years of Apple retail stores

00:40:15   so it was like a little desktop model just just like you would take like a model of like a

00:40:21   IKEA

00:40:24   Chair and put it in your room

00:40:26   Like you could just drop this down onto your desk and look down into it like like a little Lego house or something like that

00:40:32   But but while I was while I was building that I kept thinking like it would be so cool

00:40:37   If you could see this at full size and actually walk around in it

00:40:42   but like the limitations of AR kit like a USDZ quick look file has like a lot of

00:40:49   limitations on texture resolution and file size

00:40:53   I just I just couldn't make it something that you could view that large and it still had an acceptable

00:40:59   quality and also you get like the like

00:41:02   iPhones with LIDAR I believe they detect where the walls are in your room

00:41:08   So the the actual walls of your room would would clip into the model because it's obviously

00:41:14   Bigger than any room you'd be in so so I kind of had this idea in the back of my head and that so that was

00:41:20   May

00:41:21   2021 and then in in January that's kind of when I started to really

00:41:27   Put in the work on this project and I took the the model I had made of Tyson's Corner and I kind of tore it down

00:41:36   Got rid of the the parts that were low poly low resolution textures rebuilt it

00:41:42   I added a roof because obviously the

00:41:44   the

00:41:46   the USDZ file like you had to be able to look down into it so there was no ceiling on the store and and

00:41:52   then the

00:41:54   So the modeling I went store by store

00:41:56   First modeling and then bringing into unity making sure that it worked and then I started on the next door and that so that took from

00:42:03   January to July it was it was really like all of my free time and

00:42:07   Yeah, so so I guess seven months maybe maybe a little bit more

00:42:13   The thing I love about it and and I don't know. I don't know why it's it's happening now. It's maybe it's me

00:42:21   being solidly in middle-age, maybe it's coming out of this pandemic, but

00:42:27   maybe it's just the state of the world and the internet but

00:42:33   More and more recently, I've been just looking back at

00:42:37   the earlier years of the internet and just thinking like man people used to just build cool things or build fun things and

00:42:46   share them with the world and

00:42:48   People don't do that anymore people. It's

00:42:51   Not that no one does it but it's like it just doesn't seem like that's where people spend their time people just get on Twitter and

00:43:00   Argue and post links to fun things and that's it as opposed to registering their own domain name and

00:43:06   Just putting something

00:43:09   Whoa, I where the hell did that idea come from putting it up on the web sharing it or making something else

00:43:16   If it doesn't make sense as a website make something that people can download and it's not a business idea

00:43:22   It's not it's just here's a cool thing and I want to share it with the world

00:43:26   your project is

00:43:29   Exemplifies it. This is what I want to see more people do

00:43:32   I want to see more people spend seven months of their spare time building

00:43:35   something awesome for no practical reason other than that you just I

00:43:40   I'm just imagining in your brain. You're like I would like to build this and then I you're you're thinking

00:43:46   I just I need to build this right it had to be a moment where you're just like I have to do this

00:43:51   Yeah, well truthfully, you know

00:43:53   I I really kind of built it for myself

00:43:56   Because like I wanted to see what these stores were like I've been so fascinated by by Apple retail stores

00:44:03   But obviously like the Tysons Corner store is still there and it's right for now

00:44:07   It's still in the same exact spot in the mall where it always was

00:44:10   but it doesn't look anything like it did in 2001 and it's it's something like I can just never get back to without like just

00:44:18   Rebuilding it myself. So it kind of it started just just from that and

00:44:24   then I realized along the way like how

00:44:27   meaningful it actually might be to people who have a lot of memories of the stores or

00:44:32   the products that everyone has their

00:44:35   Favorite iPod and and just kind of build to put yourself back in that moment in that place in time

00:44:40   So many people have said that it that it meant a lot to them. I

00:44:44   think that's how all

00:44:47   Creative good creative endeavors have a story like that

00:44:50   I just I'm lucky as I've gotten older and I have an audience and I know

00:44:55   Authors who write books. I know

00:44:58   I'm an acquaintance at least of John August who's who's a pretty pretty to say the least successful screenwriter and

00:45:06   it's like

00:45:09   People who write the books that you love the most are

00:45:12   Writing the books that they themselves would love most to read Stephen King

00:45:17   who's one of my favorite authors has always said that right like he did if

00:45:21   There if you could like erase from his memory one of the books he's written and then give him a copy of it

00:45:28   He'd be like this book is amazing. This is fantastic, right? It's it's that's what creative people do

00:45:34   It's like they build the thing that they want themselves even though

00:45:37   You don't get the enjoyment out of it as a surprise that anybody else does right?

00:45:44   So now you've got these models and you can ex you Michael Stieber can experience these stores

00:45:48   But because you built them

00:45:50   You don't get the experience that I got

00:45:53   when you just plop this link in an email to me over the weekend and it came as a total surprise and just

00:46:00   Lit up the parts of my brain that shoot good feelings and chemicals through my body like this is so much fun

00:46:07   But it's that self-satisfaction

00:46:09   right, like you just had to see this real and and then the other thing too is there's that moment where like you you

00:46:16   But you you underplayed your skills you say you're not a developer and maybe you don't write code

00:46:21   But obviously you're talented with Blender and you self-taught yourself with unity and such there had it's that moment

00:46:28   When you realize when you got good enough like well, let me watch some YouTube videos see how to do this

00:46:33   Where do you're like? Oh, okay. I have I could I could do this right like I I could do this

00:46:39   Now I have to do it

00:46:41   Yeah, it's it's kind of a thing that just like one thing builds on the next and it started from

00:46:48   from just wanting to really research the stores to

00:46:53   if you go on like I go on flicker a lot to find to find photos of old stores because people

00:46:59   used to always big albums from star openings and things like that and the photos are always like a 640 by 480 like

00:47:07   really like it's it's so difficult to figure out what the title of a

00:47:13   Random Mac game is when the entire photo is 640 by 480 and this is one

00:47:20   box on the shelf and and and it's the only happens to be like the only photo of this shelf that was

00:47:27   apparently ever taken so like

00:47:29   Just the the quality of it trying to experience that

00:47:33   through the photos that people took at the time is just

00:47:37   I

00:47:39   Knew that I had to make something better than that

00:47:41   It's not like flicker flicker is still an active photo sharing service. It is it's I'm glad it's still around

00:47:49   I occasionally because I still have an account and over the years I've put some I

00:47:54   Don't really I don't know I was gonna say don't really have I don't have at all any kind of photo gallery

00:48:00   Widget at daring fireball. So if I have like oh, here's the thing sometimes

00:48:06   I don't know a couple years ago one of the

00:48:08   portrait mode came out for the iPhone and I

00:48:12   Wanted to publish way more photos than I usually do in a review of an iPhone at during fireball

00:48:17   So I put them into an album on flicker

00:48:19   There's a bunch of articles over the years where I've done that so glad that they're still around a happy paying customer

00:48:25   It's obviously not what it once was

00:48:27   but in terms of like the heyday of flicker it

00:48:31   Completely coincides with the era of your research. So that's it's so great that flicker still around for that, right?

00:48:39   It's like yeah

00:48:40   and and I kind of I felt this this urgency when I was doing my research because a lot of the accounts what I would just

00:48:47   Say just about every account that I came across on flicker is inactive now

00:48:51   And and I have like a list of links to different albums and like every once in a while

00:48:57   I'll click on one and that that album is now gone

00:49:01   So like and I have no idea how many photos like I missed that would have made this process so much easier

00:49:08   yeah, and it's what's what's kind of funny is that

00:49:11   flicker serves this this really important purpose in like cataloging a

00:49:17   Specific time that I think it's kind of sad that were that we're losing slowly when I was researching

00:49:23   infinite loop that star opened in 2015, so that was like already in the

00:49:29   Instagram era people weren't really using flicker. It was actually more difficult to find

00:49:34   Photos of that store opening even though it was really only a few years ago

00:49:39   then it was to find like photos of like the Stanford ministar in 2004 just because

00:49:45   Like it's impossible to go back and find anything on Instagram. You can't search by date the people

00:49:52   Seem to like wipe their accounts a lot more. It's and the quality of the photos

00:49:57   You've never been able to upload like the the actual JPEG file from your phone. It's always a compressed version. So

00:50:05   yeah, it's I think it's kind of sad that that we're really gonna lose a lot of

00:50:11   History when as flicker just kind of falls apart

00:50:15   Yeah, it's funny because and this is total serendipity because I just posted a link and it's been a week of

00:50:23   sort of

00:50:25   bemoaning

00:50:26   Instagram

00:50:27   Jumping the shark which has been a long slow boiling frog ever since Facebook acquired it when it was indie

00:50:35   but it seems like

00:50:37   2022 is the year where they just sort of yeah

00:50:41   We're just gonna destroy the Instagram that was and build something turn it into a tick-tock clone or whatever

00:50:48   but even the

00:50:50   Instagram of

00:50:52   Everybody's fondest memories where it was just a simple timeline of sharing from people. It was never meant for

00:50:59   like a historical

00:51:02   Archive right but you could do back in the day is if you knew who took the photo like if if it was

00:51:09   Jason Snell you knew that Jason Snell posted a bunch of photos of a

00:51:16   store opening on his on his Instagram then you could go to Jason sells Instagram account and

00:51:22   Click on his profile and then there'd be a list of all the things that he's posted and you could just scroll to the bottom

00:51:28   And and get there but like the way Instagram's evolved. Yeah, it's like it's it's they they have no interest in it

00:51:36   So even though Instagram is still around, you know to say the least it was never meant for that

00:51:41   That's it's really a shame

00:51:42   You mentioned 640 by 4a and in sort of bemoaning it but the back in the back when people were posting it that seemed big enough

00:51:49   For anybody and it just it's it reminds me. I don't know if you've ever heard this

00:51:53   There was you're probably too young but like the original IBM PCs in the early 80s in the DOS era had a limit of exactly

00:52:01   640 kilobytes of RAM

00:52:03   Okay, it was like a technical limit. It was really bizarre. I didn't even I never really encountered it

00:52:09   I never owned a PC, but there's a famous quote from Bill Gates that

00:52:13   Somebody it was at a like a trade show or something and they were like, hey, what about this technical limit?

00:52:19   It's only 640 kilobytes of RAM and it was like I'm like it wasn't just a limit in the hardware

00:52:24   It was like a limit in the operating system

00:52:25   So next year there was no way to make a computer with more RAM and supposedly Bill Gates said

00:52:30   640 kilobytes of RAM ought to be enough for anybody and it's a super famous quote, but apparently and again, I'm promised everybody

00:52:36   I'm doing it right now gonna put it in the show notes. He claims he never said it. It's apocryphal

00:52:41   It's like all the great quotes

00:52:43   It's one of the sad things in the world all the best quotes, you know of apparently the person you think said it didn't say him

00:52:49   but but

00:52:51   640 by 480 pixels that ought to be a big enough photo for anybody

00:52:55   Turns out nope when you're trying to build a retina level full-screen high quality recreation of these stores

00:53:02   640 by 480 not not big enough

00:53:06   Yeah, and that great what else what else did you do any other research notes that that are worth worth a story?

00:53:13   so there are a ton of small details that that I think really

00:53:19   really sell the the realism of the models and and they were things that I really was only able to

00:53:25   To track down because I've been paying so close attention to to how the retail store design is evolved

00:53:32   so for example like at

00:53:35   infinite loop there there are the

00:53:37   Drawers of iPhone cases that you can open the the wooden drawers and in inside each each iPhone case and its packaging is

00:53:45   separated by a little wooden divider and that's that's how they're all organized in the drawer, but

00:53:52   Infinite loop is one of the only stores in the world that actually has a drawer with wooden dividers in it

00:54:01   If you go to any other Apple store with it with the new restore design that has a drawer

00:54:08   Like that and you pull up in the drawer

00:54:10   What you'll find is like little brass dividers between each case and they look like like DDR2

00:54:17   Like RAM sticks they have like the little notches in the side and everything

00:54:23   But they're just like plain brass dividers and that's what they've been using

00:54:28   Almost since the beginning but like the very first few stores with that design used just wooden dividers between the cases

00:54:35   so like there were like really tiny little obsessive details like that that I like

00:54:41   99% of people probably won't notice but like I spent my way too much time

00:54:47   Researching stuff like that not too much time

00:54:51   It's just enough time is what I say as the person who can identify the difference between

00:54:57   Ariel and Helvetica in the in a snap of a finger. No, that's the sort of thing. That's why this

00:55:03   Experience is so awesome. Here's another one. The the actual name of the app is

00:55:09   I keep forgetting it actually shop different shop different and I keep going

00:55:15   I'm a launch bar user myself, but I know a lot of people use spotlight

00:55:19   Some people use Alfred but you hit command space and type the name

00:55:22   I keep typing time machine and time time machine of course is a hit

00:55:27   But it's right. It's not your project. It's time machine the actual backup software

00:55:34   That's been built into the Mac since probably around the time of these stores that you're talking about

00:55:38   Is that why you didn't call it time machine?

00:55:40   so I I was I was really conflicted on that and I thought

00:55:45   Well, yeah time machine. I didn't want it to be the same as time machine the the Apple

00:55:52   And I also thought that the Apple store time machine like that was way too long for an app name

00:55:58   It's it's going to be it's just not gonna look good

00:56:01   so I went with shop different because I think it kind of it fits the

00:56:06   Project like is you are going shopping?

00:56:10   But it's it's very different and and the shop different is also a slogan that Apple used

00:56:16   when the very first stores open if you go to like if you go on archive org and

00:56:21   You find Apple's homepage for May 19th, 2001. It has like a rendering of the

00:56:28   Tyson's Corner storefront and it says shop different and all the

00:56:32   Employee shirts and I think the shirts that they gave away at the openings originally

00:56:38   They have an Apple logo on the back with

00:56:41   Like a barcode like on top of it and then right below it says shop different

00:56:48   So like they use that slogan 2001 and I thought it was kind of fitting for this

00:56:52   That's it's that's great. I love it. But I do remember I shouldn't say that I forget the name what I remember to shop

00:56:59   It's like I've interned because I kept on preparation for this podcast

00:57:02   I kept opening it and it's like it's as a launch bar user

00:57:07   It's like all I need is a couple of letters of the at the beginning. So it's like command space SHOP shop

00:57:12   Return but I do think I think the time machine thing is funny because I kept typing time machine and it was a hit and say

00:57:19   No, this isn't the time machine. No, I

00:57:21   Did though you mentioned building a our kit model type thing and I saw on Twitter and it's

00:57:30   Obvious it's like oh man. This is so much fun to play on a big Mac screen

00:57:34   But it's like lots and lots of people on Twitter are trying it and then they're like, oh, this would be cool. Is it a AR?

00:57:42   Experience if say a certain company based in Cupertino came out with like a thing

00:57:48   you strapped on your head and had a

00:57:50   AR goggles or VR goggles in front of you

00:57:53   it's that I presume that's something that at least crossed your mind as a

00:57:58   Future direction to take the project you've already built

00:58:02   Yeah, I've thought about a dozen different ways to make this project take

00:58:10   Another seven months and you know, I would like to build a version of it that

00:58:14   that was for like very powerful hardware and and that the so that I could make like

00:58:21   really photo realistic texture resolution

00:58:24   Just just like incredibly detailed like you can move every product in the store things like that

00:58:30   And I think it would be perfect for an AR

00:58:33   VR

00:58:34   Type experience. I just hope that if there is a future product like that that this is something

00:58:40   I can bring over because I think it would be really cool, you know in a more immersive setting. I do too

00:58:46   It just seems obvious. I mean, it's super super good as is and and given the

00:58:52   Options you had for what to build it for I think building it for the Mac

00:58:59   Was exactly the right thing to do and even taking the App Store would they approve it aside and the whole?

00:59:06   Again, I laugh I was chuckling there, but I'm not the one who might have wasted seven months of effort, right?

00:59:12   like but it exemplifies not to turn this into a bitch fest about App Store, but

00:59:18   it it exemplifies though your project exemplifies the sort of project or problems with the

00:59:26   The order of App Store approval which is spend all the time to build the thing

00:59:35   Then give it to Apple and then you find out if they're going to allow it unless your project is something that you know is

00:59:42   kosher for the App Store, right

00:59:45   but if you're if you have the idea for a project and you're yours is to me a perfect example of

00:59:52   Hmm. I could definitely see Apple saying no and and maybe no on something as simple as you cannot have the Apple logo

01:00:01   so you could and maybe

01:00:03   build the version that if you just took out the Apple logos and

01:00:07   And turned it into a circle or something instead then you could submit it or maybe they would

01:00:13   Put the kibosh on the whole thing because it's a reproduction of their intellectual property these stores

01:00:19   but the only way you'd find out is if you built the whole thing and

01:00:23   Then submit it right and then you've got this thing built for the iPhone

01:00:28   so I think you did the right thing but a

01:00:32   Future direction of hopefully maybe moving it towards the goggles would be awesome and maybe now that it's out and

01:00:39   You've got this thing and you're you've gotten some attention for it. Maybe you could figure out a channel to

01:00:44   Get like yeah

01:00:47   You should definitely move this to a our kit for the Apple glass or whatever

01:00:52   They think we think they might call the the the platform before you actually spend the gobs and gobs of hours doing it

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01:04:37   It's funny to me to hear that that your original idea was just to do the Tyson store

01:04:42   Which would have been fine and we still would have been fun

01:04:44   maybe we'd still be here talking but I think no surprise the store in your

01:04:50   Experience I'm gonna keep going back to that

01:04:52   I spent the most time in was the cube as you called it the Fifth Avenue store in New York

01:04:57   I don't know if that's the most famous one. It's hard to say maybe it is

01:05:01   Yeah, I would say so but it clearly it was more than a small leveling up, right?

01:05:08   There was like the leveling down of the the mini stores

01:05:12   Which you have which is which is the name of the one that's the mini store in your in your in your app

01:05:18   Oh a Stanford Stan

01:05:20   I and their idea behind that was that many malls have these sort of

01:05:25   Retail spots that are smaller footprint than the original concept of the Apple store and that was an interesting direction for Apple's expansion

01:05:33   The thing that I don't think anybody would have anticipated because so many people when they started were thinking like this is doomed

01:05:39   None of these computer companies that that make you try to expand into consumer retail ever have any success

01:05:46   So not only did they exceed with the regular stores now

01:05:49   they have a series of

01:05:51   flagship stores literally all around the world and the one in New York is

01:05:56   Well, maybe they have to a couple flagships in New York, but the Fifth Avenue one is clearly iconic

01:06:01   I mean, there's the big cube above ground and

01:06:04   It's just such a weird space retail what

01:06:11   Wise right for I mean, I know I'll bet because it's so iconic and everybody so many people go to New York

01:06:16   A lot of people who are listening have been there, but if you haven't

01:06:20   It's really weird. It is subterranean. It is underneath a plaza on Fifth Avenue

01:06:27   Do you even know what was there before it was an Apple store?

01:06:30   so as far as I know there was a sunken Plaza in front of the GM building there and I

01:06:39   Don't remember if it was still sunken like when Apple took it over or not. I've

01:06:44   Really not seen too many photos of that, but I know that it was pretty underused

01:06:49   it wasn't a very successful area as far as I'm concerned and I

01:06:54   Mean, I think it makes sense right you have all these

01:06:57   Skyscrapers along Fifth Avenue and then there's just a hole in the ground when people aren't

01:07:02   Right, not really like oh what's down there? So yeah, so the I

01:07:08   Mean it was it's kind of a bold idea to put the entire store on the ground, right?

01:07:12   Well, and the other thing too is number one. That's just tough

01:07:16   Period right to make an a pleasant

01:07:19   shopping experience that's underground and to have an underground store that people will get to that they would notice

01:07:27   From the ground. It's not like the big Fifth Avenue Apple store is like when you go to a

01:07:35   Train station and you're underground and there's a Dunkin Donuts and a newsstand where you can buy

01:07:41   Magazines and stuff which makes sense for them to be underground because they're there to get the consumers as they walk to catch train

01:07:48   It's just a tough idea

01:07:51   Period and they solved that how do people know where it is from the ground with the cube which serves?

01:07:59   no

01:08:00   functional purpose

01:08:01   it's it's just there to

01:08:05   Be an icon a literal architectural icon

01:08:08   I guess functionally it does let sunlight in because it's glass and you can see through it

01:08:13   But it's like we the basic idea is we could build this big store

01:08:16   underground and we'll put this

01:08:19   big

01:08:21   Architectural marvel glass cube above ground and people will come down a very, you know

01:08:27   I remember when it opened it was it people

01:08:30   Obviously talked about the cube, but the other thing that people talked about an apple including Apple was the staircase which yes

01:08:37   We is also made of glass. Is it still the original staircase? I don't even I'm not quite sure

01:08:43   I haven't been back since they

01:08:45   Remodeled refurbished did they did they rebuild the whole thing? I'm not even sure I'm

01:08:50   I've only been to the original

01:08:54   Yeah, the the Fifth Avenue store is like I think the term is a ship of Theseus. That's right

01:09:01   So yes, right

01:09:02   So like nothing from the original store from from 2006 which really isn't that long ago. There is nothing left

01:09:08   From it at all

01:09:10   It's it's an entirely new space and and really the the cube was completely dismantled and replaced in

01:09:17   2011 I believe they reduced the number of glass panels

01:09:22   so that that first cube lasted just a few years and then

01:09:25   They closed the store in January 2017 and it stayed closed until

01:09:31   September 2019 and they were in the

01:09:34   Former, I can't remember the name of the the the toy store. That was it FAO Schwartz. Yes

01:09:42   Yes

01:09:42   They were in there as a temporary space

01:09:44   for for like over two and a half years while that that while the new store was built and they literally started over so they

01:09:51   They tore out

01:09:53   The the entire of this glass staircase they they lowered the floor of the entire store

01:09:59   but I don't know how many feet but it's it's much taller inside now than it used to be and

01:10:04   Just it's much larger

01:10:07   But there's literally nothing left when they rebuilt the cube the new staircase when you walk down

01:10:12   There are like mirrored stainless steel panels

01:10:15   On all four sides. So you are in this like mirrored

01:10:19   Environment it's it's actually kind of it's not disorienting

01:10:22   but it's

01:10:23   It's it's almost like being in some type of like funhouse where you just you look all around and you see your own reflection on

01:10:30   every wall and the stairs are now

01:10:32   polished stainless steel - so it's just it's this kind of like dazzling experience as you walk down the

01:10:39   Stairs, but but yeah, so the the original

01:10:42   cube aside from the

01:10:46   Aside from the actual glass cube and staircase itself

01:10:50   the store was really just a standard Apple store with a few more tables than

01:10:55   Then in what would be in a large mall and and I think like people were able to

01:11:00   to look past that because the the cube was so spectacular and and when they rebuilt it the

01:11:07   actual store

01:11:09   Matches the cube in in magnitude now. Hmm. Yeah, that's interesting that they lowered the floor

01:11:15   I did not know that because like I said, I haven't been back but that was one of the things was that

01:11:20   It's like oh my god. This cube is

01:11:23   Cool and like anything really worth seeing in person pictures and videos don't do it justice you go there and you see it

01:11:31   and it's like this is even cooler than I thought from pictures and

01:11:35   Then you go down the stairs and then you're in the store and it's sort of like this is a little a it was a little

01:11:42   Sort of like that's just sort of a bigger square footage regular Apple store, but the the low ceilings were

01:11:50   Not great, it's actually sort of a downgrade from a regular Apple store low ceilings are not generally regarded as

01:11:58   luxurious but you knew but on the other hand you knew you were underground and so it just sort of was like it was like

01:12:06   Like if you went to a regular mall and the ceilings were that low you'd be like what the hell is going on here

01:12:11   This is weird. Whereas you know, it was totally acceptable knowing you were underground

01:12:14   the thing that's so

01:12:17   In addition to the problem of solving. Well, we've got underground space. How do we make a nice store is?

01:12:23   Tough no matter where you are in the world

01:12:26   but the other extra tough thing for Apple is the competitive nature of the company and the pride of

01:12:32   Being on what you know is arguably the highest end retail stretch in America

01:12:39   I mean, I guess you could talk about Rodeo Drive or there's

01:12:43   Other super high-end shopping areas, but Fifth Avenue, New York

01:12:48   That's the major leagues of retail and Apple obviously do do they compete directly?

01:12:54   against Tiffany or

01:12:57   Any of these other brands Gucci or whoever else is nearby on Fifth Avenue? No, not even at all

01:13:04   But you know, they want to hold their own right and it turns out they did more than hold their own

01:13:10   They're probably the most famous store on that stretch

01:13:13   Yeah, and and what I what I think is really fascinating about the cube is that it certainly is the most

01:13:20   iconic Apple store and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that

01:13:25   Steve Jobs was was directly involved and there's this kind of story about about how it came to be and and it

01:13:33   coincided with

01:13:35   the that early era of the iPhone when there were huge lines outside the store and it got a lot of

01:13:41   Attention with the the press cameras and things like that, but in terms of like architecture and magnitude of stores

01:13:47   There are so many

01:13:49   New stores that have been built over the last five years or so that I would say like really surpass

01:13:56   the cube not only in in architecture, but in their

01:14:00   Their physical placement like for instance Apple Marina Bay Sands, which is in Singapore

01:14:06   it's literally a floating glass orb on the water in Singapore and

01:14:11   It's it's just so much more. I mean, I've never been there but

01:14:16   You can just tell from the photos like this is this is at another level and and it's certainly like it's it's not like

01:14:24   It's a hidden project or anything like that, but I don't think anything has been able to

01:14:29   Surpass that that like legendary status of the cube

01:14:33   Yeah, because and a lot of the other flagships are built into historic buildings in yes

01:14:40   London and other cities

01:14:42   I mean you I should ask you which some of the ones are and it's a great thing Apple does is take

01:14:47   historic building that had fallen into

01:14:51   disuse or

01:14:54   and restore it to

01:14:56   architectural glory and make it a thing that people want to go to write like

01:15:01   It's one of the things about Apple stores there there it's it's high-end luxury

01:15:09   architecture and it is

01:15:12   Totally mass-market. It is for everybody. Everybody is welcome and feels welcome to go into the store and you get to go into a

01:15:21   world-class

01:15:23   Architectural retail experience but the ones that are built into historic things

01:15:27   Apple is respectful of the history right? Whereas the cube is all Apple

01:15:33   Right and and I think the the historic preservation projects that Apple does it's it's really kind of it's really kind of unfortunate how

01:15:42   they get a bad rap and I know that you and I can appreciate the level of

01:15:49   Detail that they go into into restoring these historic buildings, but I know like outside of the Apple community

01:15:55   like especially the store at Carnegie Library in DC and and even Tower of Theatre in

01:16:01   LA which opened in the last year

01:16:03   Like there's a lot of criticism about those projects that people think that Apple just kind of went in took over

01:16:10   Some great historic space and now it's a cell phone shop and they ruined a historic building

01:16:17   and so it's it's kind of a tough situation and and I think I think people have because stores like the

01:16:24   Fifth Avenue cube they're so iconic people have in their mind. That's

01:16:29   What every Apple store is like so they think like Apple gutted this historic theater and now it's a glass box

01:16:37   and and I think that's really been like a

01:16:39   Perception problem that they've really struggled to overcome especially as they move into more historic buildings

01:16:46   I feel like they've handled it very well

01:16:48   Which is that I don't think there's any path to them doing this

01:16:54   That doesn't have that criticism and I think you just sort of do the right thing

01:16:59   Have the right attitude and you just have to ignore

01:17:04   the

01:17:06   Haters and it's so cynical because they act as though the critics of these things act as though

01:17:13   I don't have any specific example in mind, but did you know that?

01:17:16   Imagine that there's some city and and they act as though it was a thriving

01:17:21   Public library where all the children of the city

01:17:27   loved to come and filled the filled this place for the last hundred years and was still thriving and

01:17:33   Like the mean old mr. Potter from it's a wonderful life

01:17:40   Mean old trillionaire Apple incorporated came in stole the lease

01:17:45   and closed the library and turned it into it like you said a cell phone store and

01:17:51   Now the kids who up until Apple did this love the place

01:17:56   Now they don't it. They don't have any books from the library and that that doesn't happen. That's not what Apple is doing

01:18:03   I don't I don't think there's a single one of these that was a thriving

01:18:07   It their historic buildings and and his and notable

01:18:11   architecture

01:18:14   But Apple's not taking over places that were thriving in their original use and buying them out because they have more money

01:18:22   It's they're taking buildings that that no longer were

01:18:27   You know that their glory years were in the past and I don't so I don't know what the critics think

01:18:33   Should happen to these buildings. It's it's it's like a wishful thinking of a utopia where collectively

01:18:41   somebody or we taxpayer money would just go to restore it and

01:18:46   For what purpose that people would actually enjoy? I don't know. It's it's just sort of utopian

01:18:53   Footstomping of I don't know some but something something but it should just be for the public good and shouldn't be for selling consumer products

01:19:02   Yeah, it's it's really kind of remarkable when when the Tower Theater store was just a rumor. I happened to be in

01:19:10   LA for the Adobe max conference and I thought well

01:19:13   I'm gonna stop over and see what that what that building looks like, but I remember walking walking around

01:19:19   On the sidewalk in front of the store and it's it was falling apart. I mean it was completely closed

01:19:26   There was like pieces like dangling off the building like it was it was falling apart

01:19:32   it was in really tough shape and

01:19:34   I

01:19:35   mean

01:19:37   Then when I came back for the opening, I remember rounding the corner and it was like nine o'clock at night

01:19:44   maybe and the the marquee was lit up a big letters tower and

01:19:50   And it was just was lighting up the whole block and and there was like this immediate

01:19:55   like transformation of the entire

01:19:58   Downtown just by this one star and it was it was incredible what?

01:20:02   what they were able to do with a space like that and and like realistically like

01:20:07   even in its heyday that building was a

01:20:10   Theater which was a for-profit business. It wasn't like some

01:20:16   community like

01:20:19   Some like sacred park or something that was taken away

01:20:22   So I think once you if you look past the surface level and like it makes an easy like Twitter post like to just

01:20:29   Say like oh look here was this beautiful building and somebody posts the photo of how it looked in

01:20:35   1920 and then here's what Apple did to it. But but once you once you really look beyond the surface that

01:20:42   There's there's a lot more to it. I think it's sort of like

01:20:46   to me, it's sort of like Toy Story and

01:20:50   it

01:20:52   Yes, toys really aren't

01:20:55   anthropomorphized

01:20:57   beings with personalities and in like but in you know

01:21:02   The idea what's the best purpose of a toy to be loved and played with by actual kids?

01:21:08   That's that's what resonates about Toy Story, right? It's not realistic. Of course

01:21:14   I mean, but that that's the truth, right and so like a

01:21:18   toy that

01:21:21   Actually gets loved and played with by a kid to me is more

01:21:27   interesting than a toy that an adult

01:21:30   buys and

01:21:33   And not only never plays with but actually

01:21:35   Doesn't even want the box dented or opened and puts on a shelf and you know

01:21:40   I've got stuff that I haven't actually I don't really I don't tend to buy things

01:21:46   I keep in boxes, but I get it if you do I'm not putting anybody down

01:21:49   I'm sure that lots and lots of people out there who listen to the show have some favorite things that they

01:21:53   Keep in mint condition in a box or whatever

01:21:56   But to me the one that gets played with that's more interesting

01:22:00   You're right

01:22:00   And that's one of the things I love about some of the photos in the designed by Apple in California coffee table book

01:22:06   my favorite picture in that whole book is

01:22:08   the

01:22:10   Original iPhone that's that belonged to Evans hanky who's now in charge of design at Apple

01:22:16   Her iPhone her original aluminum backed iPhone and she used it of seemingly maybe didn't upgrade

01:22:22   Herself to an iPhone 3g the next year. It's beaten to hell

01:22:27   And it is the most

01:22:30   Gloated to me is the most beautiful picture in that whole book of beautiful objects because to me an iPhone that is all

01:22:37   scratched and

01:22:40   Dent and used is more interesting, right?

01:22:44   And what if you if a building were an anthropomorphized?

01:22:49   To me what a building wants is to serve a purpose

01:22:53   so taking a historic building that was sad if it had a personality and now has been restored and and is

01:23:02   Filled every day with people from the building's home city from all walks of life

01:23:10   students to retired people people of every nationality

01:23:14   And race they all feel welcome and come in from opening until close buying

01:23:21   Some of their favorite things that they own what what better purpose is there for a building it to me?

01:23:27   It's just sort of the knee-jerk

01:23:29   You know, there's obviously problems with capitalism. There's problems with everything and it's just the

01:23:36   Worst system ever invented except for all the other ones, right but it's like the idea that some people have that

01:23:42   The entirety of capitalism is rotten to the core and a capitalist intent for these historic buildings is inherently wrong is to me

01:23:51   Go

01:23:52   Go bitch about it on your website and we'll ignore you in the meantime. We're gonna go enjoy this very nice store

01:23:58   There's there's my rant. I

01:24:00   suspect right and

01:24:03   And I think that Apple especially in the last couple of years. They've really put some touches in these historic stores that

01:24:11   That celebrate like the the original intent and the original history of the store

01:24:17   and so for example, if you go in the basement area at tower theater, they have

01:24:22   historic photos from from when the

01:24:25   when the building was an actual theater and they have

01:24:29   Samples on the walls of different architecture elements from the store and they show how they restored each element

01:24:37   so like there's like a

01:24:39   plaster like an ornate plaster decal and they show like

01:24:43   how it was when when they found it in the store and then like our preservationist

01:24:50   Did whatever to peel back the layers of paint and fix it up and they show you like this progression

01:24:56   So you can really really get a feel for for how much detail went into every piece of it

01:25:01   It's just really cool. It feels more like a museum when you go down there

01:25:06   man again

01:25:08   A lot of the critics to speak of it as though Apple came in and bulldozed these buildings and then built a cookie cutter

01:25:15   generic Apple store on top

01:25:17   Which when in fact they do the opposite like you just emphasized that when they come into the historic buildings

01:25:22   They each one is unique. Each one is a unique project and they try to honor the history and preserve

01:25:29   what's able to be preserved and

01:25:31   Document the history and do it with the most respect that they possibly can and I think that's awesome

01:25:38   I think that it is it's the opposite. It's not like well, it's like the downside to apples expansion into retail to me

01:25:45   It's one of the best parts of it for society as a whole is

01:25:50   Rejuvenating these buildings and giving them purpose while respecting the history

01:25:54   yeah, I've watched some of the like City Council meetings where Apple has to present these projects and

01:26:01   there's always a

01:26:04   representative from the Apple real estate team and usually maybe someone from Foster and Partners there and I've seen

01:26:10   Specifically they've said this is not another glass box

01:26:14   Like they go out of their way to emphasize that because I think even at the city level that they face a little bit of pushback

01:26:21   It's interesting to me too as somebody with a broad

01:26:26   interest in Apple as a whole and the Apple way of doing things is that it's really the only thing

01:26:33   Apple the modern Apple does and I've always defined modern Apple is the post Steve Jobs

01:26:40   verification 1997 onward it's the only thing they do that's

01:26:45   backward-looking

01:26:46   They're actually it's it's part of the culture of the company is not to dwell on the past to there's a Steve Jobs quote

01:26:54   I'll paraphrase but you know when you've made something great

01:26:58   What you should do is take a moment to enjoy it and then move on and make another great thing

01:27:03   You know and there's there's exceptions to that. They've brought back some of the six color Apple logo stuff

01:27:09   They've made some wallpapers for phones that have sort of a callback to that era and the logo and I think it helps too

01:27:17   You know, and I think it goes along with with their very

01:27:21   keen outspoken interest in

01:27:24   LGBT

01:27:26   equity obviously literally from Tim Cook on downward but that the classic six color logo draws

01:27:33   associations to the use of the rainbow logo for LGBT

01:27:38   Type support so they do that. There's actually a new ad campaign. I just noticed on billboards here in Philly for AirPods

01:27:46   I don't know if you've seen this but that sort of a bold

01:27:49   Primary color thing with a figure in a dark silhouette with white AirPods in their ear

01:27:56   Which is a clear nostalgic callback to the iPod campaign

01:28:00   from

01:28:03   2020 years ago or so 15 to 20 years ago, so they don't they they don't never look back

01:28:08   But the architecture is the one thing where they're there. They're explicitly looking back

01:28:13   And I think

01:28:16   You know when thinking about Apple retail in general apples mentioned it before in keynotes that they

01:28:22   Think about the stores as the largest product they make and it's I think it's easy to dismiss that as like

01:28:29   Well, that's that sounds great. No, but I I think if you really

01:28:33   internalize that idea and think about the next Apple store as

01:28:38   just like the next iPhone and everyone builds on the last and each one a lot of people think that all Apple stores look the

01:28:46   same right, but

01:28:47   Does the iPhone 12 look?

01:28:50   That much different than the iPhone 13 like yes and no right if you if you know what you're looking for

01:28:56   there are a lot of differences and I think that the

01:28:59   They really do think about the stores in that sense that this is this is another

01:29:05   product that we make and that's I think that's what makes them

01:29:09   fascinating and what makes it

01:29:12   really the the area that

01:29:14   that I've been studying for for so many years because it's

01:29:18   It's endlessly

01:29:20   Changing that's it really it's really what it is

01:29:25   Well said, all right, let me take one last break here and thank our fourth and final sponsors are good friends at Squarespace

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01:32:03   Talk-show one of the saddest things to me. It is sad we laugh at it

01:32:08   I mean and it's it is it is both funny and

01:32:11   Sad is like when Microsoft launched their retail stores and they're very Apple store like often

01:32:18   in the same mall system where Apple stores are

01:32:22   because one of the things Apple one of the little things Apple is good at is figuring out where to put stores and

01:32:28   Then they'd build these stores that were not ripoffs. I wouldn't say they're ripoffs, but the

01:32:35   Clear low that use glass have these tables let people just play on the computers without a hard sell

01:32:42   like if somebody really just wants to come in the store and just like

01:32:46   Log in and check their Gmail on the computer like they're not going to get bugged by a sales

01:32:51   Associate and then you go through them all and the Apple store is sort of like packed and then you look and there's the Microsoft

01:32:58   store and it's like

01:33:00   crickets chirping like like if somebody somebody wanted to build the

01:33:05   Microsoft store time machine but wanted to come in and take some photos, but they really don't want people in the photos

01:33:11   Well, guess what? You're in luck. You could do it

01:33:13   Any time of the day, I'm curious what you think about that like what and I I it's it there's something different

01:33:21   About Apple in so many ways and it's hard to imagine how anybody else could build

01:33:27   Stores that are so popular as Apple right Google has some pop-up stores, but you know who else could do it?

01:33:35   Yeah, and what's what's really sad I think is that

01:33:38   Almost all the Microsoft stores are closed now. I wonder why I mean, yeah

01:33:44   the pandemic really like

01:33:46   Knocked them back and I think the only ones that they have left open are like a couple of their flagship stores

01:33:53   even though it's really I think there's there's two parts to it and I think number one is

01:33:58   that the Genius Bar and the Apple support experience is

01:34:04   so important to the stores and I think that the stores would be packed if

01:34:09   There were if it was literally just the Genius Bar and there were no products to look at

01:34:14   The stores would still be packed every day of the week all hours a line of people out front

01:34:20   Before the store opens waiting knocking on the glass like that's just how it is

01:34:25   there's always somebody that needs to get their iPhone battery replaced and and I think that

01:34:31   You just don't see that with with other brands like Microsoft and maybe it's because that they don't offer

01:34:38   the same support experience honestly, I I couldn't tell you what what it would be like to get your

01:34:46   Surface tablet serviced or something like that. And I think that people also are

01:34:52   Attracted to the architecture of the Apple Store, right? So even though them like a Microsoft Store or Google Store

01:35:01   Is distinct in in its own regard like the the design of the Apple Store is so eye-catching in a mall

01:35:08   That you and the the lighting it's it's it just draws you right to it

01:35:14   So there's like this natural interest in in like, oh, let's see what's going on there

01:35:20   I just don't think anyone anyone has been able to match it

01:35:23   The pandemic to me is is maybe it's the last topic we'll cover here

01:35:29   But it's the Apple Store's role and and what it clarified is to me really fascinating here in

01:35:36   Philadelphia Philadelphia was actually I don't know

01:35:39   how

01:35:41   encyclopedic your knowledge of Apple's retail stores are but Philadelphia actually if you if you chart it on an xy axis

01:35:48   The size of a US city and how late it got its first Apple Store

01:35:55   Philadelphia's some sort of outlier by far the biggest story that city that was the last to get an Apple Store

01:36:02   The the Walnut Street store is is like the only one in in this in downtown, correct?

01:36:08   I mean that that is everything else is in the suburb. Yeah. Yeah, that's correct

01:36:12   I forget when it opened but that yes

01:36:14   It's the Walnut Street store here in Philadelphia and I just happens to be pretty close to where I live

01:36:20   And so I walk past it all the time including during the pandemic

01:36:24   my gut feeling I've never really asked around but my gut feeling is

01:36:28   It is in fact that stretch of Walnut Street in Philly would be the the premier retail

01:36:36   District in downtown Philadelphia Center City we call it and I I think what happened is that they just were

01:36:44   Waiting for something to open that fit what they thought their needs were and it was a game

01:36:51   I used to play it beforehand like when

01:36:54   Something would close and I would think that that could be an Apple Store and then I'd wonder if that would be it

01:37:01   And then it never was right down Center City

01:37:03   Philly is Philly is big but Center City Philadelphia is actually relatively small

01:37:10   it's very walkable from end to end and

01:37:13   I don't really think there's a

01:37:19   Market for another one. I guess I could be surprised if they opened another one in this in this city limits

01:37:25   But yeah, I've I've looked around I I'm not sure where they would put another one in Philadelphia

01:37:29   Specifically because they've just become more picky over time

01:37:33   Yeah

01:37:33   so like if you if you look at the malls that some of the earliest Apple stores went into I think like

01:37:40   They have these properties there now and they're committed to maintaining them in most cases unless like the mall is is dying

01:37:48   But I just can't imagine them ever opening a store in some of the malls that they're in now

01:37:53   so I I think I think that they've

01:37:55   Compared to compared to other countries like the US is fairly saturated with Apple stores

01:38:03   Like if you consider how few there are even in China compared to how many people there are there? So yeah

01:38:09   I think the the market for US expansion is

01:38:13   It's they they'll choose and they'll wait as long as they need to to find the perfect property

01:38:20   Yeah, the other thing with Philadelphia is that in the suburbs? There's the king of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania, which is like 15 miles

01:38:27   West but it's like I often tell people it's like the longest it depending on the time of day and the traffic

01:38:33   there's only one road to get there the school expressway and

01:38:37   If there's a car accident, it is the longest one one accident. It's the longest 15 miles you'll ever drive

01:38:43   But if there's no traffic you could go there as you could drive as fast as you want and then on the other side of the

01:38:49   River in New Jersey, there's the Cherry Hill Mall

01:38:51   Which is can be depending where you are in Center City you can get there in like 10 minutes in a car

01:38:57   It is really close and they've been around the king of Prussia one

01:39:01   It was was is a they've since moved to a new spot that the king of Prussia Mall is huge

01:39:06   One of the biggest malls in in America and they've moved to a new location

01:39:10   It's it's really huge and Cherry Hill is a pretty big store. So Philly was well served

01:39:16   just not in downtown but

01:39:18   During the pandemic it was interesting to me as a pedestrian just walking by seeing

01:39:24   the Apple Store

01:39:26   Come back and it was one of the first doors on that stretch when they couldn't serve people

01:39:34   Indoors because of indoor restrictions for kovat they set up a nice tent and they took it down every night to shade people from

01:39:40   the Sun because one of the things that's perfect about the

01:39:43   Walnut Street store is it's not just on the nicest stretch of Walnut Street. It's also

01:39:48   South facing so it gets it gets sunlight during the day and guess what? It's all glass

01:39:55   Storefront, but because it gets the Sun and everybody had to be outside they put up like a nice tent

01:40:01   So people weren't having the Sun beat down on them. They had cold water for everybody waiting in line

01:40:06   And I'd walk past and you'd hear just a snippet of conversation and it's exactly what you think

01:40:11   They dropped their phone and now it doesn't work. The screen doesn't even turn on and or something like that people need help

01:40:16   You know, it's there it's their phone right? They were there

01:40:19   I I don't see given the pandemic restrictions and and being respectful of their the employees who work there

01:40:26   I don't see how they could have been open more and and it was really an interesting thing

01:40:31   As all of this retail that the most thriving area of retail in my hometown was all shut down

01:40:37   You know or even with the George Floyd right, you know, they got their windows smashed

01:40:41   It was there was a I forget if it was a police car

01:40:44   I think it was a police car was right you couldn't if you were making a move Michael Bay were directing a movie

01:40:50   You couldn't make it up

01:40:51   It was a police car

01:40:53   Right in front of the Apple Store that somebody threw a Molotov cocktail into and it burned out the police car

01:40:59   right in front of the Apple Store, you know, and now the glass got smashed and they covered it up and

01:41:03   They let their employees. I actually walk I have some

01:41:08   It might even be on my Instagram again another callback to earlier in the show that you know

01:41:13   They boarded up the glass and they let their employees paint

01:41:16   paint a

01:41:18   Collaborative mural on it while they ordered new glass and in the meantime

01:41:22   They were serving customers while it was all the glass was boarded up

01:41:26   It was a big part of bringing the city back and it again

01:41:29   I I think you can be if you want to be super cynical and just think it's

01:41:33   Just a cell phone store and it's just there to make the most

01:41:36   Currently financially successful company in the world even more successful

01:41:41   I mean if you want to be that cynical go ahead, but I don't know it meant something here in Philadelphia

01:41:46   It really did. I think that the the pandemic was a big reset for for Apple's retail strategy

01:41:53   and I don't I

01:41:55   don't say that because

01:41:57   Somebody has told me that I don't I don't have any like

01:42:00   confirmation of that but from my observations like I

01:42:04   think it was it was a moment where

01:42:08   whatever the store plans were going forward had to change and I think that their priorities had to shift and

01:42:16   in terms of like new stores what what the existing stores are going to offer for services and

01:42:24   and I think that new strategy is going to take a few years to really show itself just because of the fact that

01:42:32   Physical real estate only can change so fast and they can only roll out things to stores so fast

01:42:39   But I think like for instance like Apple pickup is one of the biggest changes since the pandemic

01:42:45   So like the the new stores that have been built over the past year. They all include a

01:42:51   Dedicated area in the store. It's specifically marked

01:42:55   This is Apple pickup

01:42:56   there will be like drawers in the wall that where they're storing customer orders sometimes like

01:43:03   It has direct access to the backstage area and they've carved out these sections in new stores just for online

01:43:10   pickup and then at all of the existing stores

01:43:14   they've like cleared off a product table where they would have had iPhones before and they have a little easel there and

01:43:21   They've just turned them into dedicated pickup zones

01:43:24   And I think that's one of the largest changes to the store format in quite a few years. It's

01:43:30   famously there are no like checkout counters at Apple stores, but I think the

01:43:36   The pickup element is something that is only going to become

01:43:41   more important as more and more people are buying online and I think as much as Apple likes to think of its stores as

01:43:50   Places that you go just to visit hang out try the new products like

01:43:55   There is that express component. That's just really important right now

01:44:00   And I don't think I don't know for a fact, but I don't think that they would have moved in this direction

01:44:05   Quite so fast had the pandemic not really or had the pandemic not really shook everything up. It accelerated it, right?

01:44:13   It was like maybe that's what would have happened anyway

01:44:16   and that's the way the world of retail is going to involve but the the pandemic just did a decade of

01:44:22   acceleration in in a year

01:44:24   I

01:44:25   Can't let it slide because it's my I was gonna ask I was gonna save it but I'll get it out of the way now

01:44:30   But well, I'll save the question for you

01:44:32   But my least favorite thing about Apple stores is the fact that they don't have a dedicated place to go get in line to pay

01:44:38   I hate it and that's a total eat

01:44:41   Maybe I get it that I've been to California enough times that it's an East Coast West Coast thing

01:44:46   But the other thing is that they used to have it in the air like like the the original stores that you modeled

01:44:52   there used to be a place where you would pick up a thing and then here's the line and then you could go and

01:44:58   Get in line and pay and I like to get in line to pay

01:45:02   I hate that that's my least favorite thing about Apple stores because it you

01:45:08   if it's something you can just pick up off a shelf like an iPhone case and you pick it up and now I want to

01:45:14   buy it and

01:45:15   You go up to somebody wearing this t-shirt and you're like can can I check out with you and they're like, oh no

01:45:20   You want to find that guy over there and it's like how am I supposed to know that and you and and the other the person

01:45:25   You're supposed to go to is wearing the same shirt, but there's somebody who can check you out

01:45:29   I I complain about it less now because you can do it in the app and that's just what that's actually what I do

01:45:35   I just go to the app which was

01:45:38   Still I still find weird where it's like how does anybody know that I bought this but I mean I do it

01:45:43   I don't I don't shoplift it to test the test the security but I the the years in between them having a

01:45:51   queue to check out and

01:45:54   Being able to do it in the app

01:45:57   Infuriated me because I it's like you're just wandering around

01:46:02   Guessing who to go to I hated it

01:46:05   Right and and I think I think the idea of it initially

01:46:10   Was I mean it made sense like the idea that you can just walk around wherever in the store and someone will help you and

01:46:18   Without a specific counter. There's never like the appearance of like a line and waiting but but in practice

01:46:25   Yeah

01:46:25   that that's probably the number one complaint that I

01:46:29   See about Apple stores and and and I think part of it is that the the feature that you can scan

01:46:35   Scan and buy things right with your iPhone. That's

01:46:38   Up until like the last year or so. They really never talked about it at all

01:46:44   It was something that you would have to know

01:46:46   Before you went into the store and it's only since like last fall that they've started putting

01:46:52   specific signage like on the accessory shelves that say like

01:46:57   Just they use actually app clip codes where you can just scan the app clip code and it brings up an app clip for

01:47:04   the Apple Store app and then you can just check out right there and they really have not promoted that feature until

01:47:10   The last year and so I don't think that the majority of customers even realize that's an option for them

01:47:17   Yeah, I do. But yeah

01:47:19   Well, you can't go on go on

01:47:23   Okay, well the the Apple pickup counter it functionally it looks like a checkout counter

01:47:29   But but when you when you approach it, you have to already have an online order placed, right?

01:47:34   So in that sense it is that kind of central place where you know where to go when you enter the store

01:47:40   But but yeah, I I guess I would agree with you. It is

01:47:44   frustrating like when you

01:47:47   Want to check out you just have to kind of like

01:47:50   Hold up, whatever you want above your head and kind of wave it around like someone like yeah

01:47:56   I want the explanation for this why there's no line for people who want a line. I

01:48:00   Honestly, I

01:48:05   really don't know because

01:48:07   In practice, it's not like they've been able to maintain the appearance of no lines because you often get lines congregating around

01:48:15   A specific table where someone is helping people check out and you'll get lines for appointments

01:48:21   so like the waiting in line is like a big part of the Apple star experience and

01:48:26   Yeah, it is a little bit baffling to me I'll just say though I do the other thing from the pandemic

01:48:33   So I think on the one hand they're more friendly to online shopping and getting a pickup on the other hand

01:48:38   I do think it reiterates the fact that they've come back and there's they're crowded. You're right. I've

01:48:44   Walked by or visited several since the pandemic restrictions and have ended

01:48:50   And it just serves to emphasize that there is something important to being

01:48:56   talking to people face to face right and

01:48:59   Being in a room and feeling welcome and people like being in the Apple store

01:49:06   That's why people go there and in there they look happy when they're in the Apple store, and I think that's the difference

01:49:12   That's the that's the missing thing

01:49:14   from why did the Apple stores work and the Microsoft stores didn't is

01:49:20   people want to be in the Apple store and the the being there is

01:49:25   Meaningful and irreplaceable and yes, you can every single thing Apple sells in those stores

01:49:34   You could just buy at apple.com

01:49:35   or in the Apple app on your phone and have it shipped to you and you could get free shipping on most of the stuff and

01:49:42   In some sense that's more convenient, right? And I've certainly lots of the stuff I do buy from Apple most of the stuff I buy

01:49:49   I just get shipped to me. I certainly didn't buy my studio display and walk it down Walnut Street

01:49:54   It's you know, but there are times where it's just nice to be there right and it's nice to see things right?

01:50:01   Like what does that Apple watch strap look like for real?

01:50:05   Yeah, one of the things that I was happiest to see come back. It's been about a year now

01:50:11   They they started bringing back the today at Apple sessions that they host in all of the stores and and I think

01:50:17   really like I

01:50:19   think they could have used the pandemic as an excuse to

01:50:23   Kind of quit doing that all together if they decided like it's it's not worth the money or something like that

01:50:29   They could have just said well, we're done with we're done with classes in Apple stores

01:50:34   But they but they brought it back and they've they've started programs like it's called creative studios

01:50:40   So they they host like series of events

01:50:44   just for underrepresented communities in each city and

01:50:48   They they aren't even necessarily programs that are

01:50:52   Available to to everyone that walks in the store. It's sometimes it's the thing that you have to apply for

01:50:58   It kind of depends on what what the specific city is

01:51:01   but but then the events are hosted in partnership with the

01:51:06   Store teams the the creative pros at each one of those stores

01:51:10   And yeah, I think that's that's like a really important part of what?

01:51:15   makes an Apple store stand out from something like

01:51:19   Google's attempt at retail and and I know like in the Apple community because a lot of a

01:51:25   lot of people like you and I are very proficient with

01:51:30   Macs and iPhones like the today at Apple sessions are kind of ignored because we all know how to use those features

01:51:37   but but I think there are so many people that

01:51:39   Find so much value in in learning about how to use the devices that

01:51:46   They spend all day on but they just never knew how much easier

01:51:50   certain features could be

01:51:53   Yeah, I think that's huge. I do I think I think it explains the

01:51:58   the to me the fundamental success of the iPhone and iPad is

01:52:05   that people who before they had an iPhone or iPad

01:52:10   Used a computer because they were already on the internet and had email and they use Chad and search the web

01:52:17   but always felt like it was the whole thing was a house of cards ready to collapse and

01:52:21   Get gummed up and slow and and they don't change anything

01:52:25   Right, like don't install anything that the thing they learn from installing software is all of a sudden now

01:52:30   They have a tool bar in every browser window that they never asked and don't know how it got there to oh

01:52:36   This is great and I can download apps and try new things and if I don't like it

01:52:41   I just tap and hold and hit a red button and it goes away and

01:52:44   Anything I download and install isn't gonna mess up

01:52:48   it literally technically can't because of the sandbox and it in it it just

01:52:55   Turns them from feeling like everything they do on their computers is going uphill and a struggle to oh

01:53:01   This is so easy and I'm coasting downhill. Let me learn more

01:53:04   And you mentioned in the original 2001 2002 era

01:53:10   they had all these books in the stores because they wanted you to like maybe get a book on how to get the most out of

01:53:17   iPhoto because they wanted you to write

01:53:21   You know, what's a lot more effective and more fun and actually more people will do it than reading

01:53:27   The book is sitting down for an hour and hearing from somebody in a class of all these other people who are in the same

01:53:33   boat as you and if you're thinking like

01:53:35   Maybe I'm the only person who doesn't know how to create a shared folder with my family and photos

01:53:41   here's a

01:53:43   dozen other people exactly like you or maybe they're not like you because they're older and younger and they're from

01:53:49   Different different in those ways, but the one thing you all share is you're all there to learn how to do more with photos and

01:53:55   That's a great feeling and it's it it is

01:53:59   It you can't you can't

01:54:03   Fully describe it with words why that's different than all being in the same zoom class at the same time

01:54:11   Right, it is being in a real place with real other people and having a real person from Apple in front of you

01:54:19   It explain this to you and then feeling like hey, I actually feel like they want my question. They're not just perfunctory

01:54:27   Asking do you have questions and hoping I don't they seem to really want to know if I have questions and and I do have

01:54:34   A question and maybe it's dumb and they'll say no, that's not a dumb question

01:54:39   That's a great question and let me show you the answer that I think there's also

01:54:45   Something that's really exciting especially like the the photo and video sessions that Apple does where you go on like on a photo walk

01:54:53   Around the mall or something like that and and when you come back to the store at the end of it

01:54:58   They'll use well

01:55:00   You'll like airdrop the photos you took to the creative pro that's presenting and then they will

01:55:05   Airplay those from their phone right up onto the big video wall. And I think there's there's something really exciting about

01:55:13   Seeing your work in that context and and what you're able to do in that session versus like

01:55:19   It's being shared on screen in a WebEx call. Yeah. Yeah, it's it's really neat

01:55:25   I think it resonates in a way that is truly important to being a human being and I know that could sound corny

01:55:32   But it I think it's true and I think it's fundamental to the success. All right bonus round. Here we go final questions

01:55:39   Okay, I told you my least favorite thing about Apple stores is they don't have a dedicated queue for I here

01:55:44   I have a thing in my hand. I want to buy it

01:55:46   Tell me your what what's give me your biggest annoyance or thing or just thing you would change if it were up to Michael

01:55:53   Stieber to change the thing

01:55:55   Okay, so I know this is kind of a big thing

01:55:59   But the thing that I would change and it's it's a pretty big thing

01:56:04   But there is this divide between the classic store design the stainless steel walls that look and

01:56:11   the new store design which is the the avenue displays along the walls the

01:56:17   Toronto flooring the quartz walls that architecture style is

01:56:23   Fundamentally at odds with the architecture style of the classic stores

01:56:29   So when you walk into an older store like like the one on Walnut Street

01:56:34   the store was designed for an era of box software of

01:56:38   big desktop Macs and

01:56:41   It's it's harder to find the products that you want the store looks less tidy because

01:56:48   it's

01:56:50   The the new products are shoehorned into an old design and Apple's kind of maintained both designs

01:56:57   Side by side and they've been pretty slow with

01:57:00   remodeling stores to the new design and I think that if you walk into a new store and an old store back to back that

01:57:08   that contrast is really striking and it's

01:57:11   Growing more striking by the year and I just think that like it's really important

01:57:17   For the the brand image really going forward that there's more consistency between the stores

01:57:24   That's a good answer and I do feel it's funny because I don't feel like our our Walnut Street store is dated

01:57:30   In general because I feel like that look is actually pretty timeless in and of itself

01:57:37   But I know enough about the modern style of Apple architecture

01:57:43   Including the way that the style is sort of unified with Apple Park

01:57:49   There are aspects of Apple Park and the Steve Jobs theater and everything they've done

01:57:54   And sort of big part of it to me too is sort of like the integration of plants

01:58:00   Yes, like the Apple Store here on Walnut Street has no plants and it doesn't have any leather seats and like that's sort of the

01:58:09   New style I I think if you you seem familiar enough with our Walnut Street store

01:58:13   I think if they needed to do that

01:58:15   They would need to find a bigger

01:58:16   Footprint and I don't know if they're on the hunt for that if they are there in luck because there's a lot of a lot

01:58:21   of retail openings in Philadelphia

01:58:23   So I wouldn't be surprised if there's actually a hunt going on if they're thinking that because to me that's part of the new style

01:58:30   of Apple retail stores is like

01:58:32   Plants and seating and sort of an indoor park area for lack of a better word

01:58:38   It's not quite so rectilinear just a perfect

01:58:42   rectangle of

01:58:45   gleaming

01:58:46   Stainless steel or I guess it's aluminum walls. So that's a good answer

01:58:50   Alright, and then what about your favorite little thing that maybe people don't really think about about apples Apple retail stores. Oh

01:58:56   Wow, that is difficult. I thought maybe the other one would be the one where I put you on the spot

01:59:04   So the complaint about the dated style of the dichotomy between the two architectures, that's your complaint. What about a little thing?

01:59:12   Okay, so I really love the tables in Apple stores and I don't think that people really think

01:59:20   Deeply about what's going on with the tables and I actually I named my newsletter about Apple retail

01:59:26   I named it tabletops because I'm always thinking about the tables but the tables so

01:59:31   I'm sure that you remember like the the old

01:59:37   Television sets that were like consoles that like I do a wood box around the TV, right? Yep

01:59:43   So in a way like Apple store tables are like

01:59:48   Console TVs where they're really an appliance disguised as furniture

01:59:53   so there's so much going on inside the table from like the on the newest tables like the

01:59:59   The cable is routed up through the leg of the table so that you don't see any

02:00:05   Any cable coming down from the center on the older stores. There's there's power management inside the tables, right? There are actual

02:00:12   white wall chargers just like

02:00:15   like the

02:00:18   USB-c bricks that you get with like a MacBook right there inside the tables and there and there's complex like

02:00:24   Mechanisms inside the table for for routing cables, especially like an Apple watch display table

02:00:31   Which is actually on its way out, but there's there's so much going on

02:00:35   it's it's not just a big solid block of wood and I think a lot of people do know about at the back of the

02:00:41   Not every store has these tables, but actually I

02:00:45   might be wrong about that, but the

02:00:49   The the tables you you can wave your hand over the table and the the outlets will like rotate

02:00:57   Out of out of the tabletop if you've never seen it, it's it's hard to explain but there's a there's a

02:01:04   wooden section of the table that physically

02:01:07   turns and reveals

02:01:09   power sockets and USB ports

02:01:12   That are hidden inside the table

02:01:15   So if you sit down for like a genius power point that you can plug in your Mac or whatever

02:01:20   And so like there's so much going on

02:01:25   Inside of what just looks like a huge wood slab

02:01:27   That's a very good answer. That's excellent. All right, let's wrap it up

02:01:33   You mentioned so that was a perfect segue you mentioned that you publish a newsletter called

02:01:39   Tabletops, where can people find that so that is newsletter dot Michael Stiebert calm

02:01:45   all right, and I publish it every week and

02:01:47   Michael Stiebert calm it redirects to your seems like that's your main homepage

02:01:54   department map dot store

02:01:56   Yeah, so so that's a project that I started a while back actually when I was at at 9 to 5 Mac and it's it's a

02:02:05   glossary of like of the different features in an Apple store and and I would use it to

02:02:11   Link specific things in my articles when I didn't want to explain like what's what's the video wall?

02:02:18   Every time I wrote a story because the audience was some people had never visited a store

02:02:23   Some people were very familiar

02:02:24   So I would just I would just link to certain things like that rather than explain it every time and but that that gloss

02:02:31   She's a little bit outdated. I should I should probably update it. But um, it's maybe now that I'm finished modeling those stores

02:02:38   it is

02:02:40   Again in the same way that your entire shop different experience is way more

02:02:45   Detailed than I had any hope that it might be the glossary is actually way more comprehensive

02:02:52   Then I was guessing that it was it is actually really really it's almost like a little like a book really really nice

02:02:59   But anyway, the home page at that site, which I again I promise will be in the show notes has links to everything

02:03:04   including the Apple store time machine

02:03:07   Including your tabletops newsletter once a week and it's just just about Apple retail if anybody's listening to this and you're thinking this guy really

02:03:15   Knows what he's talking about. I'd like to hear more

02:03:17   Tabletops is I guarantee you the newsletter for you and the glossary and links to your articles

02:03:24   Etc and so forth on Twitter you are at Michael Stieber st

02:03:30   eeber

02:03:32   Anything else you want to toss out a link to no, I think that that covers it. Yeah

02:03:37   Well, thank you for your time and doing this show, but thank you even more

02:03:44   For creating the shop different app store Apple store time machine

02:03:49   Which is truly it's just just absolutely extraordinary

02:03:52   Anybody out there listens to this podcast who hasn't downloaded it and tried it who now isn't thinking I got it

02:04:00   I got it. I got to get this you're not hooked up right because it's it's just extraordinary. Thank you, Michael

02:04:07   Now.