Hello and welcome to the brew and byte podcast, episode 19, Apple’s Biggest Product. This week we look at the first reactions to the iMac as listeners start to receive their new tech. We ask would you
buy the base model. Apple discontinues yet another product and our feature as we look at Apple’s
largest product and why it’s been successful as well as some of our tips and tricks with Did You
Know? But first up, we’ll say hello to Alistair. How are you today? I’m good Craig, you? Not too bad.
Any exciting things you’ve been up to this week? Oh, I got to see my very first glances of the new
iMacs in the Apple Store. You mean you didn’t come out with one? I must say that I do like
the new colors. They do look far more interesting in the store than they do on the website. And
we’ll also say hello to Tina this evening. How are you? I’m very well thank you. I’m trying to
convert one of my friends to the world of Macs so we shall see how successful that is. So I’ve got
a new machine and so I’ve recycled my old machine and a friend’s going to be using it so that was
was quite interesting. The Appliance of Science. After two and a half hours she said, ‘I need to
stop now, my brain is frying’ and I let her leave. She wasn’t zoomified yet then. It’s interesting,
she’s someone who doesn’t always do a lot of tech stuff. So, I had lots of experiences of,
‘Well, I’m going to set you up an Apple ID, you haven’t got an Apple ID, have you?’ No, no,
I don’t think so. Oh no, this email is already being used. So, this week people have started
to receive lots of new shiny packages and one being the iMac. Does anyone have any initial
One of the things I noticed when I went into the Apple store is that the iMacs look not
as brightly coloured as they show you on the screens. They’re not as like vivid. They’re
slightly more pastel colours. The second thing you notice is you suddenly think, wow, these
are actually quite small. So they’re sort of, “Oh, okay, I can see this fitting in.”
And I could see certain colours really fitting in quite nicely into people’s homes. And the
second thing I thought was maybe the reason they went for white bezels was because most
people have white walls. So the white would sort of blend in, so you’d sort of lose that
sort of appearance. But the thing which I did think was interesting, I mean, I couldn’t
see all the colours, but I thought the green looked quite surprising. It was like, “Hmm,
This is actually quite an interesting green because you know sometimes they’re a bit
of a washed-out green.
This one was quite striking.
I thought, “Oh, that looked quite interesting.”
The orange and the pink look very similar, which are sort of interesting because if you’re
looking at them at different angles and with the lighting they have in the Apple store,
things look slightly different than what you see on your computer screen.
I’ll be interested when I get a chance to actually touch one and actually use it.
I do love the fact that you get color coordinated keyboard, mouse, trackpad, and cable.
Which is going to be interesting, isn’t it?
Because there’s going to be a whole market of people buying accessories.
But you can’t buy the different colour keyboards yet.
It’s interesting that they’re phasing out.
Is it the space grey?
Yeah, the original line-up that came with the iMac Pro has sadly been discontinued.
What does that mean, hopefully, for the new iMac?
Because I’ll be honest, I look at it and I’m used to using a laptop now.
I like the fact that I can choose where I work, which is normally in the same place,
but it’s normally in my dining room because it’s big. It just strikes me that the iMacs they’ve
released so far, the screens are a little bit small if you want to do photos or video, but presumably
if they are discontinuing space grey trackpads and stuff, presumably we can look forward to the
iMac Pros or Equivalents being colourful as well. Is this goodbye to grey? I think it’s quite
interesting that they’re going back to color because in a time when everything was either
white or gray, it was very sort of corporate. And I think what Apple are trying to do with
this color range is they’re trying to target a very specific crowd who are more visual
orientated. So in the time since the previous iMac came out, which were in color, we now
have photo-based social media, Instagram and TikTok, which apparently it’s been the number
one subject talked about on those platforms. Two, we’re trying to sort of say that Apple
is still fun and interesting to go with, and they’ve been a bit sort of ho-hum with this
sort of the grey version. I mean, the performance of the base model i3 Intel processor was terrible.
I think the reason for the colours is to say look we’re brand new, this is a new stage
and to start off the new range we’re going to bring in new colours just like the old
iMac was the start of the new range of computers.
They were the first to have CD drives put in a standard if you remember.
And weren’t they the first to take them out again?
What would be interesting though is what if they extend it to other accessories?
Because honestly I’m shallow, I would buy a pair of Airpods if they were purple.
If you could have matching colors, obviously I’ve got a space gray world.
That would be interesting.
The biggest problem I can see from a product point of view is the color matching would
be notoriously difficult to try and get not only to have the same shade, but to get that
they didn’t change color when you see different color, because they could be produced in different
could be very subtly off in different shades and so you might get people
returning them and complaining that one’s violet and one is indigo. So maybe
that’s why the the bezels are white because they pair with the airports.
That’s actually a really good point. I saw some conversations about why or
for and against for the white bezel so I’ve seen one argument that the white
bezel actually leaks light from the panel which was common with white iPhones
or white iPads, similar problem, or that people really like the white bezel and
that if you’re watching a film or looking at some photography in a darkened
room, all you can see is the screen, there’s no distraction, it blends into
the room. As Alistair said with the white wall, I think that’s a really good idea.
It is trying to be the family machine rather than a pro-end Mac. And if it’s a
family machine it’s more likely to be in a public area and a lot of decor at the
moment is pale walls. White will not clash with anything so when you see
the screen up against the wall and maybe black is too stark. It could be a reference
to two things so the first one is that the white and color could represent
consumer whereas black and limited colors could represent pro so maybe it’s
a very clear distinction so when you go into the Apple Store you would see the
colorful side on one side of the store and on the other side of the store you’d
see duller colors, black and stuff, that would be the pro line. And so you may
find you’ll end up with two different colors of items which is a possibility.
The other idea I had was that it’s basically saying this is a computer for
everyone, it’s not a computer for professionals. If you want the
professionals please wait for 27 inch. This is to say it’s we want you to
customize your iMac as you customize your clothing. I mean if they had gone for
white and black he would say traditionally in America that would
refer to the cowboy films. So in the original black and white cowboy films
the bad guy always wore the black cowboy hat and the good guy always wore the
white cowboy hat. So maybe it’s a sort of if you look at the Apple’s operating
system you’ve got the dark and the light theme which some indicate that it’s like
a Star Wars reference because Disney and Apple own each other’s shares. So maybe
it’s a sort of do you feel like you’re on the Jedi side of the eye of the IMAX or do you want to have
you know the Imperial black and stuff so will be interesting to see where we go from that. But there
was one important thing that may have been overlooked that may be more more important than
anything that normally comes with Apple products which is the Apple logo sticker. This time you get
two in two different shades but if you did go with the boring silver one you only get one sticker
also did you notice there’s no logo on the front of the IMAX now so traditionally there was always
that black logo on the front but now it’s very clean and I’ll be very interested to see in six
months time which color is the highest demanded color and second are they going to have shipping
problems like they did when the first lot of IMAX came out the other difference that people didn’t
pick up on was that the actual track pads that come with the iMac are newer and that they are a
slightly larger more rounded edge in size which is an interesting comparison but we’ve still got a
mouse with a lightning charger at the bottom that was not solved this time around. What would be
nice is if they could have one with the cable on the front so you could keep on using the mouse
and have it charging up at the same time. The other thing I would I’ve been asked by different
people is it okay now to go for the base model iMac or do I need to upgrade or change anything
on the iMac if color is not an option so currently the base model iMac comes with a 256 gigabytes
SSD internal drive two Thunderbolt C ports power cable keyboard and trackpad or mouse
and it’s got the 16 or 8 gig RAM. Now from what we’ve been reading on the M1 series of computers
prior to this the 618 doesn’t really make much difference to the average consumer.
Well what’s your opinion? Do you think that’s 256 is too small for an internal drive or you
should go bigger or would there be any other changes you’d go for? I mean myself I would like
to go for the version 1 up because you get the ethernet connection and you get the four ports
and the slightly better graphics card. Really, really? You want purple? Come on, admit it.
I was very tempted by the orange. I think the orange would be very nice, you know,
because it’s very sort of vivid. Yeah, that’s my favorite. I like the orange one.
So when the iMacs first came out, I thought the orange was very nice.
Although I did like the grape, that was quite fun as well.
Okay, I’ve got the new toy. So I’ve got the MacBook Air because it’s allegedly for traveling.
Who knows? One day soon, we may be able to travel somewhere other than my house or the living room.
So I went for the 16 gig RAM not because I need it now, you know, you’re investing a lot of cash
There may be new software down the line that’s written to take advantage of that 16 gig of RAM
So it could be that two three years down the line, although I don’t need that speed now. I may need it later
I mean, I do think 256 quite small. I’ll be honest
It’s an iMac so you can buy a hard drive to sit behind your iMac if you want to expand your storage
but what it’s going to be very difficult because everything’s glued in to change your RAM.
So I would personally still max the RAM. In fact, I did max the RAM.
Now, the interesting thing will be is, Greg will probably be better to place this one,
but let’s say you are going for, they say 512 internal gigabyte drive and you currently are
using your iPhone to store photos, which you take in iCloud and you have photos on Big Sur.
Would you set up your iMac to only just look at thumbnails and then you’d pull stuff down,
but you’d probably run out of space if you were looking at videos or would there be any
particular settings you’d go for or because you’re quite a keen photographer so I was just
interested from your point of view on would you change certain settings on your computer?
Would there be software or hardware settings? Yes, that’s actually a really good question.
So for all of my machines, I don’t have any photos stored on their internal drive whatsoever.
They’re all on external. Maybe that’s because they’re for clients. So I always need more than
one version. So if one machine does, God forbid, crash, that I can easily just disconnect it and
connect it to another machine. I personally don’t use photos. I know people that do, but I always
recommend that they have another library stored on an external device because the way that
photography is going, images are getting much bigger and bigger and bigger and for a whole
entire library to run at 500 gig, it needs to be on a separate dedicated device. It can’t be on
the operating system. Speaking as one who had the largest aperture library in the world, that was
a hard lesson actually because if you have the library with the photos, then it means
wherever the photos are, whatever machine you use, you’ve got access to the changes you’ve made to
it. So actually that’s the way I’m operating now and I wish I’d done that earlier because then
you’ve got a hard drive almost and the corresponding photos. So if you want to edit them or look at them
you can plug them into whatever machine you’re now using because you might have a library from
three years ago and that might be that a year ago you change your computer. So I agree. I think,
I mean I don’t know, I’m allegedly going to be teaching myself Lightroom. Watch this space,
if I pull out all my hair it’s because I’ll hate myself. But I may have finally given up on Aperture
but I think that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to have like a hard drive that I use for photos
with the corresponding library so that it’s flexible. Yeah the other way to look at it is
For me, I’m always out and about, so I’m more mobile than I am sitting at a desktop machine.
But the advantage of having all of your photo library on an external device, especially a USB-C
hard drive, is that I can just connect it to my iPad and edit there, and then just connect it back
to my other machine and carry on going. I’m not fixed to one particular thing. It gives far more
freedom in being able to do that. You have a recommendation for an average user type of hard
drive that you would store photos on? I’m going to say the the S word here. Samsung’s T drives,
so T5, T6, T7, they’re all very good drives for doing anything in terms of large photo library
or in particular video editing. They just have a much better read and write speed
and are far more universal in what they work with.
And what sort of size would you go for on one of those 500 gig,
one terabyte? That depends on your photos.
The way to look at it is how often do you fill
a standard memory card on your camera. So if you’ve got a 64 gig card
think of how many times that fits into 500 gig. If you’re someone that regularly
fills up one card go for the one terabyte upwards. Yes,
they are quite expensive. SSDs that are small go into the £300 upwards realm but in the long run
it’s worth it. What happens if you’re just looking for a drive for say time machine backup? I would
imagine you wouldn’t need such a fast drive for something like that. I’m going to throw a spanner
in the works because I had this discussion with somebody just the other day with another Mac user
group actually, so the PyMac user group in Washington DC and we came to the conclusion that
maybe Time Machine is not your best option for doing backup or don’t just rely on having Time
Machine but that’s a whole other argument. So it’s another piece of software someone like
Carbon Copy Cloner but the problem we’ve run up against with this is if you don’t use Time
Machine on your Big Sur, Apple haven’t currently authorized anyone on Big Sur to do it. I mean
Some of my machines are not on Big Sur, so I have the advantage of being able to use a whole range
of options, but the machines I have which are on Big Sur cause me a few issues because I get updates
from Carbon Copy Cloner saying “you can do this but you can’t do that with your operating system”.
So it’ll be interesting to see where Apple comes from on that one.
Yeah, booting on off of an external drive is, I think, is sadly something of the past that Apple wouldn’t recommend.
Speaking as someone who tried to transfer her information using Time Machine, I’m a bit jaundiced about Time Machine at this moment.
Is it if I write I’m thinking from what you described last it was more that migration assistant on the M1
computers was more the
Culprit rather than time machine being the culprit. Yeah, I don’t to be honest
I don’t know what the problem was
The problem is I think that I was using trying to use a hub that might have been the issue in the end
It was a good plan because I’ve loaded everything in and I’ve cloned the old
hard drive of the previous machine just in case I’ve forgotten something.
So I’m going to probably do carbon copy as well, but they’re basically saying
that it will be a data drive and not a bootable drive for those people that
are concerned, just they’ve, they’ve got oodles of it written about how, you
know, they’re waiting for Apple to give them access to certain things.
And up until this point, it’s not happening.
The biggest problem I have with this is that from a repair point of view,
lot of the time when a hard drive is failing on the older computers we used to go around with an
external drive with different copies of the operating system boot into that pull off the data
whilst another drive because the drive was failing before it died so that we could change the drive
or move to a new computer. Now if the entire system is moving to recovery assistant which is
running over ethernet or running over wi-fi, you’re requiring to have reliable broadband.
And the downside with that is simple. Not everyone has good quality broadband. So
in London there would be, on average it’s 12 down, half a meg up. It’s ridiculously low.
Yes, I’ve come across a lot of people who’ve gone for slightly faster broadband and going for 80/20.
So the highest they would ever get would be 80 down, 20 up.
But that’s all very well.
But if Apple are trying to sell these computers around the world and we haven’t all got grade A broadband,
or we’re living miles away in the countryside, where we’re lucky to get into double digits,
I think Apple will probably have to go have some other system because not everyone can drive to an Apple store to get something fixed.
And for someone that downloaded Big Sur this week to build a virtual machine, it was 12.58 gig.
So it doesn’t come in any small packages, unlike the iMacs.
On the software subject, 14.7 has been described as the boring one because there has not been very many updates.
it’s set that if you do have a discontinued HomePod, you can now set alarms in the Home
app. And that’s the most subtle update I’ve seen in a while.
So what’s the big new features and summary of 14.6?
A major one that is for the US listeners more than anything is the introductions to the
Apple Card and that you can now do family sharing with the Apple Card, which is a feature
that we still don’t have here in the UK. There are also some changes to accessibility, which
was a big feature this week. So you can actually restart your phone using your voice, which
is a new feature. They have also going to supposedly launch the Apple Podcast subscription service,
maybe at the end of the month, or is something coming with WWDC that ties in nicely with
that? Maybe that’s the answer to that.[Music]
Okay, so when we were coming up with different ideas for the show,
we thought we would look at product launches
and all the excitement around different products, but we forgot
one big product that Apple make, which is the Apple Retail Stores.
and this month it actually celebrates its 20th anniversary since we saw the first brick and mortar
store 20 years ago on the 19th of May in 2001. But it wasn’t until three years later that we saw the
first store in the UK which was on the 20th of November 2004 and it was the Regent Street store.
Does anyone have their first experiences of Apple retail?
It’s interesting because the stores are clever because I can remember when I was flirting with
the idea of buying my first laptop. They’re very good at you go in and you ask questions. Now,
the problem now with the London stores is they’re really, really busy. So I’m talking
when I went in probably eight, nine years ago, I’m trying to remember when I first bought my
first laptop, but they weren’t as busy. You never get a sense that they’re selling you something,
then clearly they are. So you can ask questions, they’ll show you stuff, they’ll talk you through
it. The stores feel really inclusive, there’s lots of people that aren’t wearing a suit looking a bit
boring and they seem to want to help you. They’ll talk through the product, they’ll show you what
you can do, they’ll answer your questions and you can then go thank you for that and leave and you
don’t feel like you’re leaving someone behind that’s really disappointed that you haven’t bought a
product. Now they might be disappointed, they might be thinking okay I’m not going to get a
commission or I’m not going to get this or that but you don’t feel pressured. And the other thing
I would say is sometimes the stores are so clever that they’re a little bit off putting because I
can remember going into the reading store and they got rid of the tills and you’re looking around
and you’re thinking what if I want to pay cash? How do I pay cash in this store because there’s
nowhere to pay cash? And then you try and pay cash and this little drawer pops out of the table
which is really clever but a bit disconcerting when you’re looking around for the non-existent
till. They’re very slick. I regret the loss of the glass stairs because I thought they
were beautiful. I’m not convinced by the new design, I’ll be honest. I like the trees,
but bring back the glass stairs.
So I first started reading about the Apple stores in the design press because I’m a design
student so I remember reading about them at university and the guy they got to design
the very first store in America and the ideas behind it. They were looking at Hilton hotels
for the service and the way that the service was always working. They wanted that type of
level of service in their stores. But when we went into Regent Street, when it first opened,
I was there in the first week. And of course, it being November, being in Britain, it always rains.
So the thing I was so impressed with was that you have this glass staircase as you first went
into the store and you don’t slip because they have put a particular pattern on the
top to grip your feet and they had multiple layers of glass so that even if someone had
dropped a MacBook Pro or something heavy on the staircase which they were concerned with
at the time, only one layer of glass would shatter and all the others would stay in place.
And when I was there, it was probably about three days after it had opened, the store
was full of architects and architect students, all taking pictures of the staircase, looking
at the staircase in an infinite amount of detail and the structure. And they were being taken
around by one of the chief guys from Apple’s own press department. So there was like a
press tour going around. But the biggest problem I noticed in the Apple Store was when you
went up the stairs, you had that sort of peculiar sort of mezzanine sort of balcony area and
couldn’t work out what to put in certain places so you ended up with sort of these dead zones
where they had a few sorts of products on the side putting up lots of like mice or children’s area
and so you had the really busy bit which was where the theatre was where everyone opened up
their laptops and were sitting down and doing their conferencing and stuff or you had the bit
with the children’s area where people were sitting on incredibly tiny seats and trying to use the
the IMAX. But the thing which I thought was amazing was Apple set up the stores
where you could actually use the computer as a computer and no other
store had ever done that before. It wasn’t a demo reel, you could actually try
it out, you could actually type a document and you could read your emails
and then they discovered that Regent Street ended up being the store for all
the tourists because it’s right next to Oxford Circus. So they opened up Covent
Garden to be like the other big showy store but the thing which still is
impressive was that it was the one of the very first stores you could use the
internet, one of the very first stores you could test anything out on and you
could pick up all the accessories to go with your computer and I was so
impressed by that because no other store had a genius well and I remember Dixon’s
and John Lewis looking at it in big details and saying oh we’re thinking of
doing it and nothing ever materialized from it. That’s actually a really good
point in that I came across a quote from when the initial idea of an Apple store would open.
And this comes from the New York Times that said it was universally the most colossal
mistake and underwhelming and cannibalization of its sales channel. But in its first weekend,
took just under 600,000 US dollars from one store. So they didn’t quite get that wrong.
I also think it’s inspired lots of other retailers going forward coming from a retail background.
But my question will be is does anybody know off the top of their head
how many Apple stores there are in the UK? I’d say under 40. Tina, do you have any suggestions?
No, I’d go with under 40. I can tell you how many Apple stores there are in New Zealand.
Zero. Zero, yeah. There is actually 38 in the UK and we’re actually the second largest country
for Apple’s retail distribution. If you’ve also noticed they’re in unusual places. The southeast
of England has a lot of them. London’s got eight, if I remember correctly. Now, here’s where I will
make a massive difference. For those of us, our listeners, who haven’t been to these suburbs of
London, you’ll notice there’s a massive difference between Regent Street store and somewhere like
Kingston or Bluewater store because they’re almost like steel boxes and the noise inside those ones
is colossal. And when they opened up the one in Westfield, they had to go for double height and
double width because what they discovered was when you put in very excitable teenagers amongst
slightly confused customers, no one can hear anything because the noise is bouncing off the
wooden tables and the steel walls. And so they had to refit it and change it slightly. I remember
the one in Kingston had to be refit because they discovered that the sound was too huge and had to
put the glass walls back in because people kept bumping into people and other things like that.
So there are a couple of minor things. The other thing is that what was it used to be if you lived
in Cornwall, the nearest store to you was Bristol, if I remember correctly. So you had
to go quite some way to drive to the nearest store.
Does anybody remember which OS was available when the Apple Regent Street store first came
No, because obviously I’m a newbie. So my earliest operating system was Tiger. So I’m
given quite at this stage just out of embarrassment.
Panther, I would say.
For the UK, it was actually Tiger.
So the white plastic chassis 17 inch IMAX were the main display.
Does anybody also remember the kids section of the Apple store where
educational software was provided as their press release quotes on the opening day?
The other interesting thing that we’ve sadly said goodbye to is iLife and the
iWork Suite, which have all been integrated into their own bits of software.
The one memory I also had was that there were actually two different types of genius bar,
especially for the Regent Street store on either side and one was just for the iPod.
You don’t see that anymore.
I used the iPod store a lot because I was an early adopter of the iPod.
I got the iPod almost when it first came out.
So this was before there was no Apple store, so you had to buy it from wholesalers.
And so I went down to Topham Court Road and found an X display copy and was able to buy
I think at that time the iPod had been out nine months.
And so I was having to learn how to reset it and fix it and change the battery and do
a whole range of things on that.
And then there was a specialist on the other side from the iPod genius, which was for logic
and final cut if I remember correctly.
Then there was one who was an education specialist who doubled up also as Klausworks and what
then turned into Appleworks.
So you got to know them quite well.
The other thing was that the Apple stores in a way caused the demise of some of the
big alternative retail stores.
Do you remember Capcom and Computer Warehouse?
And who was the other big wholesaler?
They all disappeared because they couldn’t compete with Apple anymore.
Do you think it was also down to different leadership styles within Apple retail that
they were successful or not?
Because we’ve seen lots of different retail VPs in our time.
I would agree.
I would say the two things which the Apple stores were excellent at was one, when they
first opened, they took the decision that we’re not going to make the store a sales
We don’t want it to look like your common store where you would buy a television or
any electronics store. If you look at the stores they were all materials in their natural condition.
Glass, bare woods, bare metal, plain and simple. We do not want the stores to be a distraction from
the products. We want you to play with the products, learn how to use their products,
and if you like them you buy the products. That was revolutionary and that sold more products
in other stores than it did in that. John Lewis did a quote I think two years in from the Apple
stores saying, “We have sold more computers since the Regent Street store opened than
we did prior to it.” Because what would happen? People would go into John Lewis because their
cat trays is never knowingly undersold. So if Apple didn’t have the iMac or the computer
they wanted, they would go into the John Lewis store, which was their headquarters store,
and pick up the item. So it was those little tiny features which helped other stores stay
in business. But you are right, when they changed managers, they went for that guy who
used to run Dixons or the DSG group, didn’t they?
They did. So this is quite an interesting area because Ron Johnson, that was responsible
for Apple retail from the beginning, came from a big box retailer in that he came from
Target. So I can understand where the suggestion was that came from Dixons and John Bower.
So when John joined Apple, he actually left Tesco’s, which is our equivalent of Target
here in the UK in some respects.
But to be honest, he didn’t last very long.
And I think part of the theory behind that was that it was kind of a stack them high
approach or trying to cut corners in terms of staffing levels.
And to be honest, I experienced that in my time when I visited an Apple retail store
and he was in charge.
I don’t know if you saw any differences with that.
And it’s interesting, isn’t it?
Because I started off my classic Halo product.
So I got an iPod, then I got sucked in a bit and then I got a Mac Mini, a white one, and
then I moved to a MacBook Pro.
And what I can remember is I was a bit useless.
I had, I think I, you know, I took the MacMillan
’cause I didn’t know how to transfer it across.
And someone really nice in the Regent store said,
“Look, leave it with us for a couple of hours
and come back and we’ll have sorted it for you.”
They were just being really helpful.
They are a victim now in the shops of their own success.
So I think I’m gonna, I really liked the Regent Street store
but I’m probably gonna go to Covent Garden in the main
because Regent Street is just packed all of the time.
And you know, and that thing of finding a computer
and the genius coming up, well,
one of the blue shirts coming up to you
and talking to you and asking you for help.
Do you know, what can I show you?
They are there, but they’re just really, really busy.
So you’ve just got to time it.
But some of the buildings are absolutely beautiful.
Covent Garden, beautiful.
I’m gonna do name dropping now.
Grand Central Station in New York.
- You mentioned stores there.
I’m gonna ask a challenge.
Do you know how many Apple stores you’ve visited?
fingers in the room here I don’t think. No, only five. I think I’ve visited seven. Is
that all in the UK? No, I’ve never visited an Apple Store in America. I’ve been to the
one in Holland, which was in Amsterdam. And I’ve also been to the one in Tokyo, which
was the main one because there’s two there. But that was interesting because you go in
and it looks a bit like Regent Street when you first go in, you know, all the tables
same simple thing and then this is tiny lift at the back but no staircase and
then you discover the only way to get to the other floors is to use this lift and
as you go up the different lifts you go to different floors and the I think it’s
the third third floor had a whole theatre you remember like what Regent
Street used to have the theatre at the back and they have and this is an
auditorium which must have somewhere in a region maybe 200 seats all permanently
dark and there’s someone at the front doing a bit of quick editing in Final Cut and it’s
doing it live and everyone’s very polite and don’t want to get in the way of anything.
And then on the top floor they got the genius bar. I thought that was such a clever idea
that you just had each floor separate. It was quite a clever way of understanding things.
Tokyo can be a bit chaotic. I enjoyed sitting in the theatre and just sort of relaxing a bit.
But I think that’s probably the furthest store I’ve been to. But I would imagine Craig has been to
a few around the world. I tried to count them before the recording started and try and find
which ones I’d been to. I think it’s 86 different stores across Europe and the US.
As you’ve been to a number of stores, can I ask you two questions?
Don’t ask me my favorite one.
No, no, no, no, no, no. I was going to say which is the most disappointing.
And the second question was, did you notice any change in any of them?
Because what I noticed is in different countries, they have different themes.
I would have to say this is going to sound really bad.
Is ones that are inside a shopping precinct that have a box model to them.
This is going to sound really bad. Sorry, London. Bromley store is just a generic box.
I’d say Stratford Westfield is the same.
Disagree. I think the high ceiling in that one has an advantage.
But they only learned that from building the one in…
Okay. Compare the two Westfields. Westfield White City or Westfield West, as they keep calling it,
versus Stratford. I think that they will, and I know this because I actually talked to them,
They say that they make higher sales in Westfield, and White City, but they get higher footfall in Stratford. and so they said they would love to expand it, but it wouldn’t make any money from it.
Because most of the people going in there are asking questions or wanting to look at stuff or play with stuff.
And so they’ve got this peculiar problem. It’s one of the highest visited stores, but least sales.
So it’s this peculiar model they have there.
I’m trying to decide on which one has the best design and that’s tricky because I’ve
been to the glass cube and I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I was going to be.
The Apple Visitor Center one at Apple Park is awesome because it doesn’t feel like an
It’s a different experience.
But the one that probably stands out for something being different is potentially Barcelona or
Milan’s one has a water fountain and it’s a subterranean level store.
It’s under the ground.
So it has an outdoor amphitheatre, which is something quite different.
The thing which really stands out is that when I was in the Tokyo one, I
had to look it up on the map.
I had to look very carefully to find it and Apple didn’t really advertise where
it was, it’s just a very simple sign on the outside with a little logo, but
it goes back a long way.
It’s quite a narrow front at the beginning, so all the European ones have got quite wide frontage.
The Tokyo one is very tall but very narrow.
Second thing you notice, it’s in the middle of a business district and you learn how to get what you want,
even though the keyboard and everything is in Japanese.
You can still operate the computers even though you can’t understand the word of it.
And it stood out quite a bit because I went into quite a few of the electronics stores,
like Tokyo Hands and the other electronic districts where they have big electronic stores.
And it’s quite interesting to see the format still works in different countries.
The one I’d like to go to though, have you seen it? The one that’s opening or has just
opened in Singapore, the one that’s floating, that looks mind-blowing. It’s like a big floating
football Apple store.
What was the one in Grand Central like? Because I’ve heard that one’s meant to be interesting.
Central is an interesting station because you have the ticket hall and the ticket hall
is very separate from the platforms, you go down to the platforms, so when you’re in the
ticket hall you don’t really see where the trains are, it’s just this big huge hall with
an amazing ceiling and then one end there’s an Apple store. So it feels like it’s in the
ticket hall and it’s a beautiful station. It was a lovely store because it was in a
beautiful location. It’s a bit like Covent Garden. When you go to Covent Garden, the building itself
is beautiful. Therefore, the experience is just so much nicer. I would say Covent Garden is
probably the store which has probably got the best design in London, I would say, of all of them.
I think Grand Central is also the only Apple store that doesn’t have a door because it’s in the
station. There’s no barrier. You don’t know where the store starts or finishes. You kind of go up
the station steps and you kind of lead your way in to an Apple store. That’s quite a different
experience on its own. I’ve suddenly realised I’ve gone to more Apple stores and I thought
one I like, but it’s shut now, is the one, there used to be one in the Louvre. There’s like an
atrium below the um, Pyramid thing. So that was quite nice. Just the location was great.
It’s interesting you mentioned that, that it’s now closed. Has it always been plain sailing for
Apple retail stores. Does anybody have any initial thoughts on what doesn’t quite work or what’s gone wrong?
Do you remember Steve Jobs was talking about how they were reviving the stores some time back and he said that they didn’t want to be like a themed circus store.
And he said that he commented on Regent Street and saying how people just used to sit in there and get out of the rain and would sit through anything,
providing it wasn’t too noisy so that they could continue typing on their MacBooks.
It’s interesting because I tried to think about this from two different aspects. So one is that
yes, Apple stores are iconic and to be fair, they have restored some hugely historical buildings
back on point as if they’re a brand new building. So I have a lot of respect for that. But they also
come up with lots of planning problems with that. And I know that there are some communities
that just didn’t want an Apple Store. I’m trying to think where it was. Was it France
that they got kicked out of? They was trying to do like a two-story glass store and they
didn’t want it. There was a whole local community argument over it. It went on for years and
in the end Apple did pull out of building the store.
Didn’t they have to change the design for the Apple Stores? Because normally these,
those you know the tables they have in the Apple Store they cost somewhere in
the region about 10,000 pounds you say why is it so expensive because he says
well actually inside the tables they’re hollow so they bury the cables inside it
underneath the tables is the Wi-Fi so that’s your Apple Wi-Fi it’s
underneath it and the ethernet cables which power it go down through the legs
and the tills are magnetically locked so if someone tries to pull them they
won’t open so that’s the thing and they were getting objections from some
certain countries about putting these tables in. So they had to cut down the size of the tables
and they had to use different types of wood if I remember correctly.
It’s interesting they’ve gone for a refurbishment because they were looking, as Apple said,
not tired but they were copied. So if you’re in London, Apple will always say Regent Street is
where the tourists go but the Covent Garden is the one we’re really proud of and that’s the one where
when Johnny Ives was in the UK looking for students, he would go there and bring people
in close to the store and then he would interview people. What was interesting is just up the road
from Regent Street you had the Microsoft store and I don’t know if any of you had ever gone into the
Microsoft store but Microsoft store seemed to like try to copy some of the ideas from Apple but
weren’t quite sure what to do because they always seemed like quite empty and we have the only
Microsoft store in Europe as well so that was interesting. What’s your opinion? Have you ever
been into any of the other branded stores like the Samsung store, Microsoft store?
Don’t think there was any other ones in Oxford Street was there?
There’s a Samsung store in Westfield East and they didn’t do themselves any favour. I mean,
I wasn’t going to go in but a couple of times when I was sort of going there, you know, to
the shopping centre, they had like a massive computer.
Oh, the virtual reality walk.
When it was working, it was stunning but often it wasn’t working and that’s not a good look.
oh we’ve built all these laptops, we’ve built all these devices but we can’t get our super duper
wall to work. It just made them look a bit amateur. The other interesting one to look at in that regard
is if you’ve been into Westfield recently, this end of London, you will see there is now a
Hawaiiway store which is an exact rip-off in every single detail even down to the HomePod in the
store and there are no customers. I think it’s like 10 staff and the air in the square
cube, which is an interesting look at it. If you went into the Samsung store, you went
into the LG store, you went into the Sony store, you felt like you’re being sold to.
And if you asked any technical problems, they weren’t that interested or there’d be one
person who would try and tell you something. But it was almost like, here’s the latest
products, we’ll put them here. But the main big difference was you couldn’t really use
It took them years to work out that people actually wanted to play with the phones.
It’s interesting that you brought that up in regards to the staffing or the style that they
approached with the store. So one thing that we haven’t looked at was the Apple Watch stores.
So there were actually three. So there was one in the UK, there was one in France and there was one
in Japan. So the one in the UK was actually inside Selfridges and it was there for just
over two and a half years. I actually visited this a number of times and it was like a mini
Apple stores within a much bigger big box retailer. But the interesting thing is, is that they
weren’t Apple staff that was in the store. They were Selfridges’ own staff or a third
party. And I don’t know if that had an impact as well as did Apple get it right in terms
of targeting a high-end watch at this time because at this point we still had the expensive
gold and ceramic watches which we no longer see but that may be another way of looking at it.
Going along with that one, have you ever been into the Curries or the Dixons or the Apple Store
within the store? What you’ll get is the amazing tables, the amazing products and one person.
the one near me is colossal. It is a massive Currys. It’s about the same size as Regent Street.
They’ve got one person responsible for all the Apple equipment and they’ve got, say, 20 people
for Windows laptops. So guess what happens? The one guy who works for Apple has an hour’s waiting
list. No one’s going to wait an hour in the store to buy a product. They’re going to go off somewhere
else and buy it online. I think that’s where the Apple stores have been successful
is they’ve overstaffed. I was so impressed with the Apple store two days ago when I went
into Westfield, even though I had to queue to get in and they said, “Well, what products
are you looking for? Okay, we’ll escort you in and then we’ll show you those products
because they have to be cleaned down. We’ll give you all the advice.” But they weren’t
pushy. They knew that I knew a bit about Apple and they were just trying to show them to
me and I was having a look at the new iPhones. I had to look at the new purple iPhone and
I was looking at the new iPads as well, which are the two things that they were side by
side so I was looking at them. And I was quite impressed and the person I was going with
I was showing because I was trying to convert them over to getting Apple away from Samsung.
But it was interesting to see their view of it. But the thing which was so impressive
is they had maybe 15 people in the store who are customers and 25 staff.
can talk to them and they come across as well-rounded human beings with opinions and some of the
opinions that you know they might say well to be honest I’m not really into this product
in Apple because I’m more into taking photos so I want that product they’ve actually got
an opinion and normally they’ll justify it they don’t say oh I don’t buy don’t buy that
rubbish, they just say, ‘I prefer to use this’ or you actually feel like they’re
talking to you like you’re a human being, which is amazing because I’m just a
punter that, you know, they’ve got to pretend to, you know, like, you know, it’s
good. Whatever their sales training is, it’s good. You know, they make you
feel like it’s a personal experience even though you might be the hundredth
person they’ve spoken to that day. That sums up quite nicely in that, to be
honest, maybe it’s not Apple stores that are successful or made them successful.
It’s the people in them.
I think it’s the collective between the two.
I don’t know if any of you have ever been to the lessons inside the stores.
And even though they’re sort of reading off, you know, you could tell that, you
know, they’re trying to follow a familiar format.
They may be doing 10 lessons that day, but they try to make it individual for
the people who are around them.
They’re not just doing a demo and not taking people’s questions.
they try and tailor it to what you ask. So if you say I’m interested in doing X, they say well you
could try this, you could try that. You do feel like the people you’re talking to use the products
and sometimes I can remember years ago going to a Curry’s and this woman asked this sales assistant
a question and he sort of answered it so I joined in and said yeah but you need to consider this
and this and it’ll do this and this and she went oh thanks for that and he went have you
ever thought of working here I said no no it’s fine. The annoying thing is is that in a lot of
the Apple stores they were busy and they would change process and you could see that changing
the system was changing. But the thing that really annoyed me was when you went into a Dixon store,
they would invariably put the person in the Apple t-shirt would be a Windows fanboy.
But because he was a good salesman, he would be given Mac. And you could clearly tell he
didn’t own a single Apple device, but knew how to read a manual and how to sell it.
And there’s a massive difference. I mean, the amount of times I’ve been in Dixon’s
PC world special pc world and i will get asked questions on the items because i’m there with a client and getting a computer for them.
Can i get questions on the computers and the other stuff because i know more about it than the guy who’s meant to be the apple specialist.
I mean that’s embarrassing I can sell more products by me being in the store than he can.
And the manager just shakes his head and goes, look, if we didn’t have you here, we would be down on sales today.
OK, this is the part of the show where we discuss our tips and tricks that we may have discovered this week,
or that have been sent in to us in our Did You Know? section.
And who would like to go first?
OK, my Did You Know? is not so much a Did You Know? as, wow, that’s amazing.
I was out for a walk and inadvertently I dropped my phone. I wear it on a belt and the belt clip
was a bit loose and it came off. I didn’t realise that obviously. 20 minutes later I realised it had
gone and this is when I discovered the joy of finding my joy and torture, I think possibly.
So I walked home quickly and I was a bit confused to start off with because I thought it was in the
house but it was me with my watch so it knew that I was in the house and I then watched my phone go
down the North Circular and you watch it, you update it, it keeps updating and you and I
literally did watch it go down the North Circular then it stopped for a bit then it went somewhere
else and I had about an hour and I marked my phone as lost and when you mark it as lost it means that
no one can use it and it flashes up a message saying this phone is lost and then it gives a
the number for them to ring. So mine said this phone is lost, please phone blah blah blah.
You cannot use the phone, there is a reward and it’s really interesting because someone contacts
you and it’s a bit disconcerting because the only thing they can call use is your phone. So when we
we did 1471 we’re thinking oh my god he’s used my phone and the good news is that actually it worked
and I was really suspicious, I was a little bit apprehensive so we were ready to run, we agreed to
meet the person who had my phone and it turned out that no they weren’t a mugger about to rip my
finger off or force me to give them the pin number, they were just a nice person that found my phone
and didn’t know what to do until they saw the number. So I was reunited with my phone and I
very happily gave the estate agent in the BMW, so I can’t be rude about estate agents or BMWs for
months, his reward. And actually, the reality is the system works and most people are nice. So that’s
my, did you know, find my phone, find my whatever is amazing, which when you consider air tags,
that’s going to be quite exciting because the maps are amazing. So is AirTags on the shopping list
next Tina? Probably not. What would be interesting for me if I was on the shopping list, maybe a new
Apple TV because we’ve got one of the first ones. So my did you know was, so I take a lot of
photographs of screens, take a lot of pictures of things I need to remember or remind myself,
you know, error messages on screens and things like that.
And I discovered that if you’re in notes on your iPhone,
there’s a little camera and if you press on the camera,
it allows you to take a photograph and store it into your photos,
instead of being in your photos, it stores that photograph in your notes and
you can store more than one photograph. So if you want to say this is the
error messages I’m getting at this particular client, you can put the messages in and take all
the photographs and it stores it there. It doesn’t fill up your photos, which means it doesn’t get
backed up to photos, which means you don’t have to sort it and then photos build your memory and
says “by the way these are all your screenshots” and I’m going “yes, I don’t want that to occur”.
The other thing I discovered is that you can use files and do the same thing. So you can take
photos in files. Now that is subtly different in the sense that you can save them instead of as a
jpeg you can save them as a pdf but big thing to remember though is that if you really need a photo
you probably want to keep it in photos because notes is a SQL lite database so you can export
it out by sending it to someone but it might not be in a format if you need to send it to someone.
So it’s useful to remember as a memory, but I thought it was quite a cool little feature
because notes often gets ignored by a lot of people.
So I just thought I’d let people know about that one.
So mine is actually not necessarily an add-on, but there are two very important shortcut keys.
I’m sure lots of you use messages on the iPhone, but when you’re typing messages on the Mac,
there are two very important shortcut keys which one is command R which is command reply and the
other one that people may not have come across is actually command T and when you press command T, you actually get the little thumbs up icon or thumbs down or the ha ha bubble or the exclamation
mark that you do when you long press on your phone and that comes in really handy if you’re
trying to do a quick reply to somebody as “Okay, I agree.” So the next time you use messages,
just try command T and see what you get. Okay. So sadly, we’ve come to the end of yet another show
and our next show is quite important because it’s the one just before WWDC and it’s also our 20th.
So we can have a 20th anniversary episode, which I’m sure some exciting things are to come.
But first we will say thank you to Alistair this evening.
It’s been great being on the podcast this evening.
And we’ll also say thank you to Tina.
Hope everyone’s well.
And I’m now going to go away and start desperately writing down Apple stores that I may have visited.
And I will say thank you and good night from me.
Until next time, I will see you soon.