Apple Store Belfast: I must be missing something

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 … Continue reading “Apple Store Belfast: I must be missing something”

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 £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.

0 thoughts on “Apple Store Belfast: I must be missing something”

  1. Well, I can see where you’re coming from. I’m not an Apple fanboy by ANY means, in fact, the only time I’ve ever used a Mac was in the very store on Regent Street of which you speak.

    I own an iPod – my fourth, and I’d hate to be without it. My last one is the first I actually bought, the first three being competition wins. The only reason I actually put hand-in-pocket was because my previous one fell down the toilet. In work. Before I’d a chance to flush. No 2’s, before you ask.

    I hold no brand loyalty to Apple, other than I like the way iTunes works, and I like the seamless synching. And I’m completely addicted to Podcasts – forget music, that’s just so last century.

    But, to say it’s just a shop is selling it short. It is ludicrously cool, even I’ll admit that. Where else can you go to play with a company’s full catalogue of expensive technical gear without being pressured to move on with the constant bickering: “Can I help you with anything?”

    You can go in, pick a Mac, and surf the net. You can pick up an iPhone and call your mates. You can sit at their ‘learning centre’ or whatever they call it, and, for free, watch as an expert shows you how to use GarageBand or Aperture.

    Try going to PC World and getting the same experience. 🙂

  2. I am looking forward to it. I have been trying to get a cable to go from my macbook to my HD TV, sounds simple. However PC Worlds Mac store (if you can call it that) offered me a 3 cable solution, another local store told me It did not exist and when I was in regent street apple store I was told ‘one of these two works, buy them both and return one’ easy if you live close!

    The other aspect of the store which I hope is embraced in Belfast is the seminars and learning classes. These are good to go to if you are trying to pick up something new.

    One last reason for visiting is to find out why my macbook wont print to an IP printer and to get the bluetooth fixed!

  3. another good thing about the mac store is not having to send things off to macsys to get fixed anymore. I I I can see your point but there are some reasons to be excited about the new apple store.

    I had a little cosmetic problem with my iBook a while back and thought it would be away with macsys 2/3 days tops but they took 2 weeks!!! So I’m looking forward to just walking into the shop and having problems sorted while I’m there.

    And like others have said the seminars will be available, something I’ve never been able to stick around in a mac store for long enough to catch cos I’d be waiting for a flight or whatever.

  4. Hi Ruth,
    I don’t think that’s fair as has been explained several times on this web site. Mac-Sys receive their parts supplies from Apple and if Apple cannot supply the part then there will be a delay. The option for all customers is to register the repair and take their machine home again for when the part arrives (which is usually next day if in stock).

    What you describe as a ‘little cosmetic problem’ is a much bigger issue if lots of people have the same issue (constraining parts) or it’s expected to be covered by warranty (where Mac-Sys would have to argue with Apple for coverage as cosmetic damage is not covered under the limited warranty on Apple’s machines).

    Hardware problems will be very unlikely to be sorted ‘while you wait’. Apple’s parts requirement would be huge and though they may be able to carry a lot more parts than Mac-Sys are permitted to carry from week to week, to expect every part to be just there is unreasonable.

  5. I think the prices are inflated everywhere! as its Apple, personally as my business is based in Dublin, I get my apple products from the 02 Experience store, with the 21% vat rebate and 21% exchange rate difference, this is much cheaper for me. But not all!

  6. I nearly bought a Macintosh LC (the pizza box model) from CEM a long time ago … however, bought a Dell 480 50Mhz instead (still boots up in Windows 3.1 or Linux/Slackware) … delaying my eventual purchase of a Mac by 15 years!

    Am I excited about the Apple Store opening in Belfast? Honest answer: no! But it will be nice to see new iPods etc and try them out before going to the till and claiming the corporate discount (which works in-store as well as on the website).

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