As shop that sells nothing?

When Steve Jobs set out to build an Apple store he created something that didn’t have selling at its heart – it was about the user experience. Of course it has been phenomenally successful. In fact the 5th Avenue store in New York (a few blocks from where I pen this post) holds the record for the most profitable shop in the world on a sales per square foot basis.


But down in Soho there is something afoot which might even shock Apple. In an Apple store there is the experience and the sale alongside. But their fiercest rival, Samsung, has opened a store which sells nothing! In fact they give stuff away. T-shirts with your own print design, coffee and cookies.

The shop is perfectly laid out in what can only be described as lifestyle vignettes. There are sofas, chairs, TV’s, a photo booth, a coffee bar, high benches and lots of ‘white space’.

You are encouraged to wander and engage (for points!) with staff. They are expert, the experiences are all about their equipment – as you would expect. But there is no hard sell. In fact there is no sell at all. They want you to enjoy the place.


Samsung spend four times the amount Apple do on marketing – and whilst they have a wider range of products this seems to have been reflected in this ‘store’.

This a fascinating concept and perhaps Shop 3.0.

Of course I have touched on their product range before and I think they have edged the iPhone 5 with the Galaxy 3. Places like this can only help cement a rosy future.

Can Apple revive itself?

I blogged about Apple last week – and my concern that they had rather lost their way.


Well fast forward a few days and to a spot nearly 3,500 miles west of Nottingham. I’m in New York for a few days – and the hot news here overnight was that queues had formed around each of the Manhattan Apple stores – people desperate to get hold of the new iphone 5s or the new multi-coloured versions – the latter are quite disgusting! I have no idea how many new phones they shifted – but the people queued all day!

I did wonder about getting an iPhone S but can’t see the point – the current iphone5 I have does what I need. I’m a bit jealous of my son’s Samsung Galaxy s3 – but the iPhone works well enough. The screen is poor at the side of the Samsung though. And the camera isn’t as good. But the apps and seamless integration with the rest of my Apple gear is pretty good.

What I do like is the new IOS – I managed to download it (slowly) before I left Blighty – although it doesn’t offer lots of different functionality – the screen are cleaner and much clearer. I love the new fonts. So we should be grateful for small mercies?

UPDATE 4pm New York time – the queue is still there! They have been queuing all day today…

Have Apple lost their way?

It pains me to say this – but I think they have.


I am a true Apple Mac fan – from the ipod, iphone, ipad (mini and maxi), macbook air and my work Imac these represent some amazing bits of kit. even Apple TV is rather cool – although it could be better.

But since Steve Jobs died in October 2011 I think the Company has flat-lined. Last weeks big announcement was a bit of a flop. Colourful iphones and ones with faster processors are hardly the ‘one more thing’ moment Jobs became famous for. It was the big reveal. The groundbreaking stuff.

Apple made the best portable music player of all time. The iPhone when it was launched was groundbreaking. The processing power of my MacBook Air is amazing – I can run my office on something the size of an A4 pad of paper.

But where is the Apple TV screen? Where is the watch? Where is the thing we are all going to have to buy because we have to? It’s simply not there.

Jobs was always going to be a hard act to follow. He was a game changer. He surrounded himself with talented people including the incredibly talented Jony Ives. But they needed his direction and single mindedness.

Apple are suggesting that they have an announcement soon – but it needs to be more than ‘better screen resolution’ or ‘faster processing’. It needs to be a game changer!

In the meantime Samsung continue to make a better phone (the Galaxy S4) and have recently announced a watch!

Is it too late for Apple to rescue themselves? Probably not – but they need to act now!

The most expensive Apple Computer?

I happened across a Christies auction tonight…


An, in an on-line sale, you can buy a tiny slice of history, an Apple 1 computer built in around 1976. It is thought that this is one of around 200 built.

As I write this the bidding is at $390,000 – more than 500 times it’s original price…

And, if I’m honest it doesn’t quite have the sleek lines of the MacBook Air I’m typing on. Nor does it have the processing power!

I’m going to give this one a miss…

But if you fancy it you don’t have long!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business Tagged , Apple One, auction, Christies, History, Mac, Woz

The Skeuomorph

It’s a great word – and one I hope you can use today – and for the next few days.

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 15.46.57

The definition is ‘an element in an object’s design that’s no longer functionally necessary but has been retained anyway for ornamental purposes‘. Like a belly button you’re probably thinking?

But actually this all about Apple and cool designs. Take the calendar in Apples suite – the picture above clearly shows a ripped element of a page. But is it necessary? It does give us a 3D sense – but it goes against the grain really?

It is known that (Sir) Jony Ives dislikes Skeuomorphs. They do rather go against the clean lines of Apple design. And there is a move in the industry to ‘clean up its act’. The new windows system apparently (I don’t do windows) has no skeuomorphs.

I think there is something rather quirky about these artefacts – they give, as much as an inanimate object can give, a bit of life?

Apple gear of the future

Check out this phone…


This is really cool – and could only be Apple. The design is just amazing – and a precursor to what we now take for granted – clean lines, simplicity and stand-out-from-the-crowd.

But if you look closely you’ll spot the date and the old Apple logo…

This is not available – in fact it was a shelved product that never made the mainstream – titled the Apple Snow White 3 – this was the original “Macphone”. Incredibly this was 1984 – nearly 30 years ago!

As you can see there was the phone part – but also a tablet for writing messages…

Apple have always been at the forefront of technology – but this just shows how far advanced they were – even thirty years ago!

A very cheap computer …

A couple of weeks ago I heard about a new(ish) computer that could possibly revolutionise the world of IT.


Although we are pretty power hungry beings – waiting for the next version of the iPad (with Retina display obviously) – there are some applications that don’t need this amount of computing power. And this is where the Raspberry Pi steps in. The basic ‘A’ model costs £16 (yes, sixteen pounds!) and is the size of a credit card. Theres no milled aluminium case here (or beige box for that matter).

The computer is as basic as it gets (there is an upgraded model for around £30.)

You need a keyboard, mouse and screen, but otherwise you can run this little machine from a basic plastic mount box.

You can read about the technical specifications here, but I can’t help but think that this is a huge leap forward. We are able now to buy kit that has sufficient processing power off a low power load but is as cheap as chips.

I have a client who is looking at building these sort of things into school desks – where basic applications can run. They will be so cheap as to not be not worth stealing. They can also be used to run robotics as the size is so small. I am also wondering about their use as processors of images as part of a TV screen set up. As the machine can process video there is no reason they can’t be plugged into the back of a projector – which in turn can take a feed from the internet.

I am guessing that the processing power available is higher than that of the Appollo Space ships which took man to the moon! This is fantastic progress…

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Nottingham Tagged , beige box, computing, Linux, NASA, raspberry pi, Technology

iphone 5 – update

My iphone 5 is nearly two weeks old. I like the style of it. It has the usual Apple finish – but four observations for Apple..
1. The battery life is terrible. I doubt it lasts six hours. The staff in Apple Regent Street said it was because i had Bluetooth, push notifications and wi-fi turned on. And I made calls and took photographs… Er – isn’t that the idea?
2. £15 for a spare cable is just a rip-off.
3. £25 for an adaptor to connect to all the old stuff we all have is a bigger rip-off – well it would be if you could get hold of one!
4. I had to go to Paris to get a cover – Apple Regent Street said they would have some in a couple of weeks – but try Amazon / Ebay. Really?

The good bit? The panorama camera is brilliant!

The new Iphone5

You won’t be surprised if you regularly drop by here that I’m an Apple early-adopter. I have a clutch of most of their kit – from ipods to ipads to apple TV and laptops and desktops. It works seamlessly most of the time!

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about my firms decision to stay with Vodaphone. And this week some shiny new sleek black iphone5′s arrived. Mine came to life on Tuesday.

My first impressions are that this is a better Iphone than the 4s – it thinner and weighs less. The processor is quicker and the screen marginally bigger – it also seems sharper. It fits in your hand better. The quality of finish is the usual Apple 5*. It feels good (although my colleague Simon Dare ‘stroking it on Tuesday was a slightly bizarre moment). I haven’t quite got to grips with Siri (the digital assistant) yet – but am persevering!

So all good then? Well not quite. The new adaptor plug for charging is better (seems more robust) – but it renders quite a lot of kit useless! Or it loads the Apple coffers – £25 for the adaptor! And £15 for an additional cable. This smacks of rip off. Apple you need to sort this out. Many people will have speaker systems which connect through the old charger port – not any more! Oh, and there are no cases available – even at the Apple store on Regent Street…

But my main beef remains the battery life – which is ‘average’ at best. I think it is constantly ‘doing things’ draining the battery. I sat on a train in London for about 45 minutes in the week and it lost 20% of its life! I was emailing…

Post Script – after writing this I had a play with the panorama photo tool…

Apple Maps – the good, the bad and the ugly?

The new maps feature on my ipad is superb. I can zoom into my favourite Pizza Restaurant – as you can see. Not sure why they only got four stars…

Then we get to Nottingham, where it’s not quite as good? I am sure you can make out my office? Its the grey one…

It isn’t quite what we expected Apple! Sure, New York and London are fantastic – and better than Google, but there is life north of Watford – despite what those Cockney types tell you. This is not John Major city – we have life and colour and some stunning buildings…

Work in progress it might be, but this is pretty rubbish and a backward step. Unless Apple are going to tell us that it’s really an x-Ray picture?