Ah yes, I remember it well: The long lines in the Cambridgeside Galleria Mall, the T-Shirts for those nearer to the front of the line, the excitement as the doors finally opened… The Apple Store opening in Cambridge, Massachusetts was one of the first ones that Apple had. We were used to the fact that although we weren’t Cupertino (or even San Francisco), Cambridge was one of the East Coast centres for Apple’s presence. After all, in the early days of Macworld Expo (and I doubt if many people who own an Apple product know this at this point), there was a West Coast Macworld Expo in San Francisco in January and an East Coast Macworld Expo in Boston, usually during the hottest week in August. It wasn’t until that fateful day when Bill Gates’s 20-foot face appeared on the screen behind Steve Jobs during his keynote (and it was hissed by the crowd) that Steve made sure that there would be no more MacWorlds in Boston.
I know, I know, there were probably other reasons, but Jobs’s annoyance at the disagreement of the Boston crowd with his strategy of having Microsoft invest in Apple during their darkest hour probably didn’t help the show. In the following year, Jobs refused to give the keynote, and the show moved to New York City. It continued on a few years there at the Javitts Center, but attendance at that venue quickly petered out. As many have pointed out, the Internet can now disperse information about products far faster and farther than any show floor could. There is now only one MacWorld Expo, each January, and it remains a San Francisco tradition.
When we moved to Vancouver, I missed that sense of being on Apple’s radar. Despite the fact that many here use the Mac (in fact, in recent years it’s increased), I found the local Certified Apple Dealers a bit ramshackle, with relatively small variety of peripherals and messy, poorly maintained display areas. My first job was working for someone who hated the Mac, and he was relieved when I didn’t insist that I use one in his small office (I would have been the only Mac user in the shop). At IBM, we all were assigned Thinkpads, of course. The consultants from Victoria often had Macs. At Blogger and smaller business events, the Mac was predominant. Nevertheless, the absence of the iPhone in Canada, the higher prices for products, and constantly hearing the rumors that Apple Hated Canada didn’t help matters.
Our days of living in a relatively less important spot in the Apple universe are about to end. On this coming Saturday morning, I hope to be in line for the opening of the first Apple store in Vancouver. We’ve been waiting for this for some time. Its going to be in the heart of downtown, at the Pacific Centre Mall (actually the previous location of Holt Renfrew, a high end Department Store, who have moved into new digs nearby). I believe that it’s only the fifth store in Canada, with the other three in Toronto and one in Laval.
To put things in a bit of perspective, another Apple store opened in Boston (across the river from Cambridge, but certainly near our old home) last week. It’s the largest Apple Store in the world, taking up three floors and sporting an all glass façade, on Boylston Street. Oh well, I guess Boston still looms larger in Apple’s realm, but at least we’re no longer off the map.