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Saturday, 23 May 2009 16:50

Apple Store Doncaster - Kids eat for free

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This morning's opening of the latest Apple Store brought the usual 'cast of thousands' out of the woodwork.  Some even had a story to tell.

As Stephen Withers reported earlier, one of the first groups in the queue waiting for the launch was the family who were first in line at Sydney's store opening.  But they weren't exactly the first.  Just in front of them were a group of 4 teenagers who arrived at 8pm the night before - equipped with copious amounts of coke, red bull and all kinds of snacks and a long extension cable to keep the power up to their Macbooks all night long.

Oh, and they also 'accidentally' found themselves locked out of the building for an hour or so when centre cleaners asked them to go outside while the public areas were cleaned and then forgot to bring them back in!

Looking over the hundreds in the queue, they were mostly late teens to early thirties, with a smattering of 40s and 50s.  Interestingly, many of the couples in the queue also had young children with them.  Hopefully not all night!  Although, it's never too early to have one's first Mac.

Inside the store, a very clean, spacious interior, with a 20m frontage, greets the visitor.  Simone, the new store manager, indicated that there were 107 'contact points' within the store (although I could only count 98) where customers could play with computers, phones and other devices.

One of the more interesting areas in the store was the "Just for Kids" Zone.


In this area, a low table was set up for children to enjoy a number of computers at their own level – suitable child-friendly software was installed for them to experiment with.

Further to this, the Doncaster Apple Store (and I assume others) are offering a "Field Trip."  This is the opportunity for school-sponsored groups of up to 12 students, along with their teacher to come into the store and, working with the in-store trainers and specialists, make use of the facilities to craft any project of their choosing.  This might be as simple as word-processing tasks or as complex as video post-production.

Commenting on her experience of demographics at the Chadstone store (where she was previously based), store manager Simone observed that "around 50% of purchasers are new Mac owners."  She also stressed that the intention of the store was for "building relationships so they [the customers] come back and buy the technology."

A major focus of the store is free (or very cheap) access to learning.  Regular free seminars are held in-store (bookings via the website, also for $129/year customers can access 1-on-1 training on topics of their choosing for an entire year; there is a limit of 1 session per week for this service.

As a very long-time user of Microsoft platforms, this writer can see very clearly the attraction of the Mac with the entire supporting infrastructure provided by stores such as this.

I wish them success.

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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.

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