Not exactly Brownian motion in Manhattan
Today after some meetings I went out for a walk. I’m staying on 12th Street between 5th and University in Manhattan.
I had intended to “just wander around” pretty much at random. That’s what I really felt like too. But in the back of my mind, not quite so far back that I wasn’t aware of it, my brain was making sure that, like it or not, I went to the Apple store on the corner of 5th Avenue and Central Park.
I really have no need of an Apple store. There’s nothing I would buy, nothing I need. But.
So off I wandered… Broadway, 6th Av, 5th Av. I stopped briefly in many stores, had a coffee and a muffin, tried to tell myself that I actually wasn’t going to the Apple store. But.
I saw iPods and iPhones aplenty along the way. Hundreds of them. All identically priced. Best buy, Comp USA, Circuit City, all the small electronic shops on 5th Av. No need, no need at all to go to the Apple store. None.
I’m walking up 5th Av in the boring super-rich area, Cartier, Dunhill, DeBeers. There can be no doubt whatsoever that I am heading to the Apple store. Most of my mind doesn’t want to go, but my legs and body seem determined. They know I need it.
And there it is. Amazing. I’ve been in several of these stores before, including this one, but there’s something you just have to see and feel. Maybe it’s the church of the 21st century… people are drawn in to worship an abstract god, to kneel at the altar and finger the icons.
It really is amazing. To me the Apple store is about the hippest place in Manhattan. Here you get to see all sorts of cool cats just hanging out with their favorite hardware. The place is full. Full of people from all over the world who’ve come to buy Apple gear. The place has a very definite atmosphere, and it’s not the atmosphere of a regular computer store. There are hundreds of Apple products out, they’re all on, and people are using them – surfing the web, reading email, listening to music, marveling. Spend half an hour in there people watching, and you want to run out and buy AAPL stock.
Apple and Nokia are two companies that really understand the importance of appearance, design, and fashion in technology. I think Nokia were the first company to see clearly that a phone is not just a phone – it’s a statement about yourself. It’s something you take out and leave on the table at the cafe, or casually flip open when you need to impress someone or get laid. Apple understands it even better. I’ll walk nearly 50 blocks just to get a fix – not to buy, just to look at the products, look at the people, be amazed at it all.
Fortunately I’m old enough to know that I don’t really need any of those shiny objects. I have a first generation iPod that I never use. I have a dead-simple phone that I don’t feel any need to upgrade. I haven’t bought myself a computer in I don’t know how long – maybe 10 years (I always get them through work). I’m not even sure that I’d own a computer if I didn’t work from home. But I sure do like to look at hardware. The new iPod nano is extraordinarily beautiful – dimensions, sleakness, feel, everything about it is divine – and at $149 (4GB) or $199 (8GB) it doesn’t feel expensive. But I know I simply wouldn’t use it. What a pity!