The gleaming new Union Square Apple store, unveiled and opened this month, is its "first global flagship," which is to say that stores that come after it will follow in its mold. Designed by British architect Sir Norman Foster, the store is sleek, for sure, but really only about as different from the last one as an iPhone 5 is from and iPhone 3.
The Chronicle's critic, John King, found the place "spiffy," with its enormous sliding glass doors. But Newsweek went all in on a big ol' metaphor about how Apple ain't what it used to be (RIP Steve we miss you!), asking the *tough questions* (sort of) about the brand but using the store as a symbol. "Is this first global flagship really just a fancy crypt?"
Since no one is buried there, of course it is not, but the idea is that "What has happened to Apple is what happens to all the rest of us: it got old." As Newsweek's writer explains, "It’s not yet pathetically old, like the Berkeley gray-hairs with “McGovern ‘72” stickers on their ‘70 Beetles, but there will come a time when shopping at an Apple Store will be as lame as shopping at a Best Buy."
Apple is definitely a luxury brand now, as it has been for like some time, but today, the store seems to say so even more clearly. "Foster + Partners designed the space, which broadcasts wealth and prestige far removed from the company’s “Think Different” era." That was not a recent era, but anyway, this is all a metaphor, you understand. Finally, making a dramatic leap of the eye and mind, Newsweek adds this observation:
Standing on the balcony of the new Apple store in Union Square, I saw a billboard peeking above the trees. It advertised another American company overtaken by more nimble competitors. Its market share remains impressive, but that has more to do with legacy than the kind of innovation that captures young hearts and minds. There, looking down into the Apple Store, was an advertisement for Bud Light.
Makes you think.
Returning to the Chronicle's appraisal, the one bit of criticism John King did have was of the plaza area with its Ruth Asawa fountain. That was basically spared because after an outcry over original plans that called for its removal. "In contrast to the pristine polished Apple, the plaza feels unfinished," writes King. His plan: "The obvious remedy is to remove the central row of potted trees — let the space (and fountain) breathe."
Previously: New Union Square Apple Store To Open Gigantic Sliding Glass Doors Saturday