NYT Trendspotting: Everyone's Copying the Apple Store

Leaping from the introduction of the new AT&T Experience store (pictured anticlimactically above), which aims to shove all of the services offered by the hydra company in your face within the confines of a single space (the AT&T experience, no doubt), to Verizon's own innovatively named Verizon Experience store, which coincidentally pushes every Verizon product ever made at you, the NYT concludes that they're both "reading from the [sic] Apple's playbook." Hmm. No.

It's true, that like an Apple Store, the AT&T Experience has different sections showcasing different products, like an entertainment station that shows off hi-def and VOD content, a music area with XM on phones, and a gaming area with um, game phones. There are several others, but you get the point.

Two reasons as to why this not like an Apple Store. One, I like going to the Apple Store, even when I have no intention of buying anything, which is to say almost always. The NYT is right; it's a destination. There's no reason for these AT&T stores to be a destination. Playing around with a MacBook Pro is very different from diddling on a phone or looking at a VOD service. There's nothing cool or inherently interesting enough about either of these things to draw people into the store, for starters.

Second, nothing in AT&T's store is synergistic. An XM-enabled phone has nothing to do with their IPTV service. Odds are, I already have a cable provider. On the other hand, an upgraded nano would go very nicely with a MacBook, or a Mac mini with an AppleTV, and so on. (Not that I would buy either a Mac mini or an AppleTV, actually.)
But there is a certain continuity to Apple's products that lends to them all being in the same space. AT&T's just trying to shove everything they can into a single space hoping that by the time you've walked out, some of it will stick. The only thing they're really taking from Apple is the $100-a-month service contract every iPhone sold is going to bring them, and they should be more than satisfied with that.

AT&T Megastore Aims to Make It Fun to Buy a Phone [NYT]