The dazzling packaging is now gone, and Apple's Fifth Avenue "Cube" retail store in New York City will reopen its doors tomorrow, September 20, at 8:00 am CET, coinciding with the release of the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max and Apple Watch Series 5. The location has been closed since 2017 and is currently undergoing renovations. Apple temporarily moved into a room next door and stuck to the 24/7/365 hours of operation of the cube.
This morning, Apple invited media to visit the store with designers, architects, and retailers to view the redesigned space, the various Today at Apple programs, customers at the Fifth Avenue Store, and more to discuss . The converted business is now almost twice as large as before and the ceilings have been raised significantly.
Apple may have several other locations in Manhattan, but the cube is the iconic Apple Store in New York City, and the company has spared no expense in any renovations. The old underground store was demolished, and Apple began with the help of the architectural firm Foster and Partners from the front. The square surrounding the cube has also been renewed. 62 circular, frosted skylights radiated natural light into the shop below. To the left and right of the cube are a total of 1
Apple has added two new entrances to the store, so that not everyone has to step in through the front doors of the cube and the spiral staircase (or elevator) – though I'm sure tourists will still go mostly to the main entrance. The staircase is now made of stainless steel instead of glass.
In addition to the natural light, the ceiling also has adjustable white LEDs, which automatically change between warm and cooler tones depending on the time of day, so that everything inside feels less artificial and artificial.
But the cube still looks and feels like an Apple Store around 2019 – and not everyone will love it. Although the company's retail division is now headed by longtime Apple executive Deirdre O'Brien, former retail boss Angela Ahrendts undoubtedly steered the vision for Fifth Avenue before leaving the company in April. Jony Ive was also involved in the new design of Fifth Avenue. It has the same community atmosphere – yes, with lots of trees and foliage – that Apple has been bringing to stores since 2016. There is a huge display and seating for presentations and courses.
As with other Apple flagships, I have the impression that things here will feel a bit chaotic. If you do not know where the Express Checkout table is, the main task of going in, buying, and getting out is likely to lead to frustration. Let me quote from what John Gruber wrote about the Apple retail experience in Daring Fireball earlier this year:
I did not like buying things at the Apple Store since they cleared queues check out. I just want to hire, wait, pay and go. Instead, the way to check out an Apple Store is to look around until you get the attention of an employee with a handheld Checkout iPod Touch. That can go crazy. My wife refuses to shop in an Apple Store for this reason. I know you can use the Apple Store app to test yourself, but I do not like it. One reason the Apple stores are too crowded is that people are running around trying to pay for things.
And it's terrible now to get technical support in the Apple stores. Previously, you could just go in with a broken or otherwise problematic device and get an appointment in the Genius Bar within an hour. Now the Genius Bar is booked days in advance – sometimes almost a week. In some ways, that's unavoidable – Apple is far more popular today than before the iPhone. But whether inevitable or not, the result is that it stinks now if you get support in an Apple Store. And frankly, the technical acumen of the Genius Bar staff is now a hit-or-miss.
The new cube does not solve it. It's very likely that customer satisfaction in the Apple Store will improve as O'Brien welcomes the media at today's reintroduction and tour of the store. People really seem to enjoy Today at Apple's offer. While Apple Fifth Avenue is bigger, nicer, and a more enjoyable place to spend time, Apple's retailers do not see a fresh start.
The problems raised by Gruber and many others still persist. Checking out can sometimes prove problematic, though Apple makes subtle changes to make the shopping experience better. The new Apple Watch Studio is effectively replicated in the store, allowing customers to select their preferred size, case material, and strap and purchase their ideal design as a combination with everything in the same box. There is a special room for testing the HomePod. As an ode to the old days, Apple added an AirPods display that presents the earphones as musical notes that match those of classic Think Different TV commercials.
Another way in which Apple will attempt to ensure a smooth flow of resources is through resources: The Fifth Avenue site currently employs nearly 900 people, compared to the 300 employees who were there when it opened in 2006. According to Apple, employees speak a total of 36 languages, with "most" employees being bilingual. The Genius bar has doubled and now extends the full length of the business, which hopefully means that appointments will be a little easier if you get into a technical emergency.
Take a look at the rest of our photos from Apple Fifth Avenue.