TV-PGOctober 3, 2001: After Palo Alto this weekend, set your retail phasers on Germantown and Albany. Meanwhile, we didn't really mean that Mike Dell had gone to work for Sony-- or did we? And one possible explanation emerges for the slightly sketchy free 10.1 upgrade program last weekend...
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Twice The Retaily Goodness (10/3/01)

And thus does AtAT's gradual transformation into "The Apple Retail Show" march ever forward; after yesterday's iffy hint at a Buffalo-area store opening this Saturday (which has since turned back into a pumpkin-- expect that store later in the month), Apple saw fit to tweak their retail page again. Faithful viewer Ben Snitkoff noted that the "Coming Soon" slot is starting to get mighty crowded these days; at some point yesterday, Palo Alto and Saddle Creek were joined by yet another location preparing for an imminent onslaught of Mac geeks: the Crossgates Mall in Albany, New York. So that's three in the on-deck circle. Does anyone get the feeling that Apple is trying really hard to achieve maximum coverage in time for the holiday shopping season?

As for the all-important factor of when these places are opening their doors, we already knew that Palo Alto is slated for this coming Saturday, the 6th. Dates aren't provided for the other two locations-- at least, not directly. But as faithful viewer JoEL points out, yesterday Apple threw two new graphics into its ever-shifting "Hot News" rotation-- and if we can assume that they're correct, then Albany will be transformed into Macville one week later on the 13th. So all you Mac-loving Albanians (um, wait-- that can't be right) should circle your calendars; we here in the AtAT staff were hoping to attend, but unfortunately on that day we're going to be on entirely the wrong continent.

The real news, however, is that Apple has apparently finally settled its long-running signage dispute with the Germantown Design Review Commission, because the Saddle Creek store is now also slated to open on October 13th. We've got a couple of tips for those of you planning on attending the Memphis-area grand opening. First of all, set out early and make sure you've got good directions, because you sure as heck can't count on a brightly-lit Apple logo to guide your way. And secondly, don't get too attached to that date; the opening's been postponed once already (Hot News originally said it was happen on September 29th), and for all we know, at some point in the next ten days Germantown will suddenly decide that all store signs must be made entirely out of wet hair. (We're very interested to see what the sign really does look like, actually.)

Provided the Germantown store does finally open on the 13th, then we'll have ourselves the first simultaneous two-store grand opening since last May, when the two pilot stores were overrun by foaming-at-the-mouth Mac users desperate for free t-shirts and a retail shopping experience less reminiscent of being stabbed in the kidneys. As we suggested previously, if you consider yourself a Mac fan's Mac fan, your task is clear: find a way to attend both grand openings on the same day. C'mon, how hard can it be to get from Memphis to Albany?

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Truth Stranger Than Satire (10/3/01)

See, here's one of the fundamental problems with AtAT: while it pulls in roughly twenty thousand viewers a day, its content is actually only targeted at about, maybe, six. What that means is that there are approximately 19,994 people out there who aren't fully attuned to our special blend of eleven herbs and spices. While most of those folks still pretty much "get it," there are always a few who were born without the irony gene. This unfortunate circumstance has led to situations like "The Great Ninja False Alarm of 1998," "The Great Microsoft-AtAT Buyout Scare of 2000," and-- most recently-- "A Few People Who Actually Thought We Were Serious When We Said That Mike Dell Is Now Working For Sony."

So we'd like to go on the record, here, and state that yesterday's report that Mike Dell had defected to Sony was a fictitious event fabricated entirely to illustrate a point: that Sony's new VAIO QR (as pictured at Go2Mac) looked suspiciously similar to a new iBook. In other words, in that picture, at least, it looked like enough of an Apple product ripoff to be worthy of Mike Dell himself. (Mr. Dell, as you may recall, is infamous for copying Apple's every move.) However, to the best of our knowledge ol' Mike is still safely tucked away in his padded office at Dell Headquarters, modelling the latest in pinstripe straitjackets and munching on his meds. In fact, faithful viewer Mark Hamilton sent us a link to more photos of the VAIO QR, and to have said it looks like an iBook was a grave insult to all iBooks for which we are sincerely sorry. Ewwwwww.

But wait; maybe there's some truth to the Dell-at-Sony gag after all. Faithful viewer David H Dennis pointed out a CNET article which indicates that Sony is "creating its own corrals in retail stores to separate its latest Vaio desktops from rival systems"; the first such displays will appear in Best Buy, and similar ones will show up later in Circuit City. Maybe it's just us, but that sounds an awful lot like a certain "store within a store" strategy that a certain Cupertino-based computer manufacturer may have implemented years ago with a certain national computer reseller chain known for dank stores, a radical redefinition of the term "sales help," and a name that once sent Mac users screaming for the hills (and now just sends them screaming for the nearest Apple retail store instead).

Now, clearly Mike Dell would have copied Steve's store-within-a-store initiative years ago, except for one teensy problem: Dell doesn't sell computers at retail. So maybe he did defect to Sony, simply to sate his nagging desire to copy the one Apple strategy he hadn't yet been able to achieve. Sick? Sure. But this is Mike Dell we're talking about, here; what do you expect, a gold star for mental health? Just be glad he's not running amuck with a chainsaw and a suit made out of human skin.

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"Spins A Web Any Size..." (10/3/01)

We know that some of you are still seething over the, shall we say, "less than smooth" implementation of the Mac OS X 10.1 "Instant Up-To-Date Program." For some people, what should have been a simple trip to the local Apple reseller to pick up a couple of free update CDs turned into a nightmare of long lines, missing shipments, and gory mayhem that was not unlike the expected result of Franz Kafka and Samuel Beckett teaming up to make a splatter movie. While we only got the merest taste of the potential trauma, if you were more deeply afflicted, we feel your pain.

Often in times like these, people search for meaning amid the seemingly senseless tragedy as a balm for their suffering. In that spirit, we pass along to you a possible-- though unconfirmed-- explanation as to why so many Apple resellers never got their upgrade kits, or got far fewer than they had ordered. According to faithful viewer steveT, the representative at his local store claims that the kits were so scarce because of a last-minute defect discovered only after Apple had pressed thousands of the discs; reportedly they all had the QuickTime version of the original Spider-Man movie trailer.

Why is this a problem, you ask? Well, because the original version of the trailer apparently includes a scene in which a helicopter flies into a giant spider web that's been spun right between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. That version of the trailer disappeared from the 'net the very day after both towers in this far less fun "real world" had been reduced to rubble-- but allegedly whoever was in charge of slapping together the upgrade discs didn't know that. As the story goes, someone discovered the inclusion of the arguably insensitive trailer at the last minute, and all the upgrade discs had to be destroyed and pressed again-- hence, the scarcity of upgrade kits last Saturday. True? We don't know. But it's an interesting story regardless, isn't it?

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