TV-PGOctober 2, 2001: Looks like there are going to be two retail grand openings this weekend-- or are there? Meanwhile, Mike Dell jumps ship for Sony (at least if Sony's latest laptop is any indication), and an alert eyewitness captures video footage of rampant carnage as a 10.1-crazed mob gets ugly...
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Sssh-- Don't Tell Anyone (10/2/01)

Saddle up, Mac fans, for it's once more into the retail breach! As we all know, the Germantown Apple store's grand opening is still on indefinite hold while Apple lovingly crafts a new sign to that community's exacting standards; the last we heard is that Apple's fourteenth effort was rejected for three reasons. Firstly, the logo is still visible from a distance of eighteen inches, and therefore must be de-emphasized still further. Secondly, while hand-carved mahogany was an acceptable material for the summer months, it's now out of season; Germantown recommends brushed platinum or silk brocade for autumn. Lastly, any proposals submitted on the fourth Thursday of a month ending in "r" must be spiral-bound and typeset in a sans-serif font-- a requirement with which Apple utterly failed to comply. (At this point we have to wonder whether Apple has considered bribery and/or kidnapping as expedient alternative ways of getting this show on the road.)

However, the Palo Alto store is just about ready to go, thus bringing to an end Apple's three-week grand opening dry spell-- a drought that's all the more painful in light of Apple's stated goal of getting twenty-five stores open by New Year's Eve. Last week we mentioned that Apple would have to start opening two or more stores a week in order to hit that target, and at least according to one source, that's exactly what's going to happen this weekend. Apparently this shindig looks to be a (semi-)bicoastal affair: in addition to the Palo Alto opening out there on University Avenue, MacMinute is reporting that the store at the Walden Galleria in Buffalo, New York is also slated for the big kick-off.

Personally, we're a little skeptical. MacMinute's source may be Apple itself (in the form of a Hot News graphic clearly labeled with an opening date), but there are several good reasons not to shuffle off to Buffalo just yet. For one thing, we tried reloading the Hot News page fifty or sixty times and we never once saw that graphic; all we saw was one for Palo Alto. There's also the fact that the Walden graphic's filename is "retail-walden09292001.gif," implying that said graphic has already been updated at least once, from an apparent 9/29 opening date. (For that matter, the Palo Alto graphic is named "retail-university09292001.gif," which suggests that continually forward-slipping grand opening dates is an all-too-frequent occurrence in the whirlwind world of Apple retail.)

Most damning, however, is the fact that Apple doesn't mention the Buffalo store once anywhere on its web site, and so far we've yet to witness a grand opening that wasn't posted publicly for a week prior to the hootenanny. We imagine it's possible that Apple is pursuing a new "stealth openings" strategy for reasons too complex for our paltry brains to fathom, but at this juncture we're going to toss that scenario on the Probably Not Pile™. Still, though, while this weekend may not mark Apple's first dual-opening since the McLean/Glendale jam last May, we're still banking on multiple simultaneous openings in the near future. And, of course, since attending two geographically diverse store openings in a single day is the mark of a true Apple fan, we recommend that you get those frequent flyer miles ready.

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We've All Seen This Before (10/2/01)

Funny, we haven't seen anything in the trades about a major management shakeup in the Wintel industry, and yet we could swear that something absolutely huge happened a little while back. Perhaps the industry just doesn't consider it interesting, but personally, we'd have thought that Michael Dell leaving the company he founded to run the design department over in Sony's VAIO division constitutes some serious tech news. Apparently we just don't have our fingers on the pulse of IT today. Go figure.

What's that? You didn't hear anything about Mikey Dell defecting to Sony? Well, honestly, neither did we, which is what we consider to be so strange; it's as if any mention of the move is being suppressed by the media. Dell's own site still lists the Mikester as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, and we can't find any sort of press release announcing the change on Sony's news site. We would have expected the truth to leak out somewhere, but the lid on this story is screwed on so tight, it's almost like they hired Steve Jobs as a secrecy consultant to keep it under wraps.

Still, the truth will out. There's no doubt in our minds that Mike Dell is now working for Sony, because we've seen incontrovertible photographic evidence: faithful viewer Victor pointed out proof positive over at Go2Mac, in the form of a photo of Sony's soon-to-be-released VAIO QR laptop. Take a good long look at that shiny white notebook and tell us it doesn't bear a striking resemblance to Apple's latest iBook; go on, we dare you. Granted, it's a little more rounded than Apple's entry (wow, we didn't think we'd be saying that in this lifetime), but that glossy white finish-- that says "iBook" all over it. (Actually, it says "Sony VAIO" all over it, but you get our drift.)

So is there any doubt that Mike Dell is now on Sony's payroll? After all, who else would so shamelessly and blatantly rip off Apple's distinctive designs? It's definitely not a standard Sony move; heck, if anything, the PowerBook G4 was heavily influenced by Sony's ultrathin VAIO designs. We imagine this could just be payback for that, but we still think this has Dell's fingerprints all over it. Unless, of course, Sony quietly acquired Future Power a while back...

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By Any Means Necessary (10/2/01)

Those of you out there who haven't yet made the jump to Mac OS X were likely not affected by the epidemic of 10.1 fever over the weekend; indeed, you're probably wondering what all the fuss was about. And we're not talking about 10.1 itself, which really is something of a marvel. No, we're talking about the mayhem that ensued when thousands of Mac OS X enthusiasts scrambled to get their hands on a limited number of free upgrade kits that would transform the sludgy quirks of 10.0.4 into the speed and polish of the Puma release. Lots of people came away empty-handed-- and even the ones that didn't may have lost a limb or two in the fracas.

No, there were no reports of police in riot gear firing tear gas canisters into the crowds, but unless you actually ventured forth in an attempt to grab one of these upgrade kits, you may not comprehend the level of craziness that burbled forth from a simple operating system point release. Luckily, you needn't rely on our tales of long lines and near-violence as frenzied customers scrambled for software; faithful viewer Jim Gaynor points out some video footage that was shot by one Jeff Davis on Saturday at The Computer Store, an authorized Apple reseller in Seattle. Check it out-- if you think your stomach can handle the sight of two hundred foaming-at-the-mouth Mac fans sinking to their lowest levels in the interest of software greed.

Hmmm... Well, actually, we've just taken a look at Jeff's movie, and it's definitely the G-rated Disney version, despite being titled "Almost A Riot." He appears to have edited out any scenes of primal violence, teeth rending flesh from bone, etc. What's left actually portrays Mac users as a civilized pack of smiling, social beings who just happen to be harmlessly loony enough to line up for an operating system update on a Saturday morning. (Okay, so maybe that's a reasonably accurate portrayal-- but we swear, in our line, one guy lost an arm.)

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