Twitter and some members of the Norn Iron Blogosphere are wittering on about the imminent opening of the Apple Store in Belfast’s Victoria Centre.
People in the province have wanted an Apple Store for a very long time. Back in the nineties, Mac users needs were serviced by a company called CEM which sold itself to another company which subsequently stopped fixing Macs. There were a few misguided attempts to start up a Mac store again in the province (CompuB, Only Solutions, Office Overload, Macinni, Octagon) but all of them had some sort of difficulty with keeping the doors open – partly because the profit margin on a Mac went from 40%+ around the time of CEM to a measly 5-10%. You had to sell a LOT of Mac machines in order to make any money at it and Apple’s pattern of secrecy meant that at any moment they could launch a special Apple Event and make all of the stock you had utterly obsolete – let’s face it – who would want to buy the last revision of a Mac when there was a new and shiny one available ESPECIALLY if the vendor could only afford to give a 5% discount in order to prevent themselves from losing money on the Mac. And every Mac you kept in stock – that had to be paid for. Who wanted storage shelves with Â£1000 notes sitting there waiting to expire? That’s not to say that there weren’t other problems caused by personalities within those companies.
You’d almost think it was planned.
So, here were are in 2008 and Apple’s own store is about to open in Belfast. The NIMUG discussion boards were alive with people discussing whether or not they got the job or comparing notes on what they saw and who they saw (followed by a flurry of deleting the content when they realised they had broken the terms of employment by talking about the interview process).
eg. NIMUG Link:
That was quite intense, but I got through to the next round. She asked me technical stuff about the OS and hardware troubleshooting etc, was rather nervous. I have to meet the glasgow manager in Belfast in a few weeks then if that goes well I have to go to London for 8 weeks of Apple training. There will be around 5 mac geniuses in total. She said possibly end of summer for opening but it could be later than that and she cannot give a precise date.
I was in the Regent Street store at the start of August and found myself wondering why I was there. I mean – the first time it was all new and shiny but over the last while I’ve become less than enamoured by the glitz of it all. It’s a store. They’ll sell things. They’ll have stock of most things. And the people working there will be a combination of people who know nothing about the Mac other than their basic training from Apple and the people who were Mac diehards and obnoxious with it. It’s spoken about like it’s a cool new place to hang out. No, my friends, it’s a shop. And I believe you’ll find it managed in a very traditional way. Apple, despite the fact that they make the coolest computing-based and consumer-electronics products in the world, are still a company, a company that makes a lot of money. And, in the end, when you’ve been to a couple of Apple Stores, having one close to your house isn’t a big deal.
I can’t get myself worked up about this – there must be something wrong with me.