Apple's Retail Stores vs. Disneyland

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Apple Stores.jpg

On Apple's earnings call, you probably didn't catch that Apple set a new retail foot traffic record last quarter, what with all the iPad supply fears and Steve Jobs ranting. But they did: more than 74.5 million people went to one of the 317 Apple stores across the world.

Only a small percentage of them actually bought anything, but that's the point. Apple has managed to transform *hanging out in their stores* into entertainment. Of course, kids have been loitering in malls for decades, but the Apple store experience is far more specific. It's about playing with all the neat Apple stuff.

The crazy thing is that the company's reach and popularity mean that a big chunk of the world's rich youth are all experiencing the APPLE STORE TRIP together. I think it will be a cultural touchpoint for decades -- like the cinema of Fellini's Italy or the department store in turn-of-the-century America -- even if Apple wanes.

apple store grand opening.jpg

Data sources:

  1. Apple earnings call
  2. Themed Entertainment Association annual report
  3. Billboard
  4. Opera America
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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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