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Apple Store

Standing in Nanjing’s first Apple Store, opened only a week prior, I chat with one of the many and very friendly members of staff. I tell him I have used only Apple computers all my life, that my university was the first in the UK to install the then Apple II for students’ use throughout, and that yet, here today I enter an Apple Store for the very first time. My partner in conversation breaks out in spontaneous applause, joined by colleagues who have been listening in. More such outbursts of celebration occur in the store every few minutes. In celebration of what, I ask. “Anything”, I am told; perhaps it is selling an iPhone, or fixing a busted computer. “We are Apple. We celebrate”, he tells me. Fair enough, albeit a little unsettling. Sinister even, if George Orwell were to write about.

I am also informed that Beijing and Shanghai have four Apple stores apiece, while the fruit with the bite mark also has shops in Wuxi, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Chengdu. Therefore, what was initially something of a personal pilgrimage quickly became a serious of nagging doubts. Why was Apple so late to the party in Nanjing? And why on Earth has it ended up with an almost dubious location on the first floor of Wonder City shopping mall, surrounded by Starbucks rip-offs? It is also just only one large room. If they can get a swanky set up on Nanjing Dong Lu in Shanghai, where is its flashy equivalent in Xinjiekou?

For starters, rumour has it that, prior to his disgraced downfall, former Nanjing mayor Ji Jianye was less than enthusiastic for the project. Yet, Apple continued to fancy our provincial capital with envious eyes; the company knowing very well Nanjing is a major hotbed for its devices, thanks to data revealed through product activations. When the change at the top came, Apple might as well have been standing outside, with their hands out.

While the Apple Watch is conspicuous for occupying the large display case that sits just inside the front door, the back of the store holds other, unexpected delights; the BB-8 by Sphero (the bluetooth controlled droid from the upcoming Star Wars VII) for one, as well as the usual selection of iPods and Dr. Beats headphones. Most staff have excellent English and as you would expect are on hand to assist with your purchase or experiencing of the product (I still can’t get the watch to work).

Another store is on the way, but the current outlet’s staff are remaining tight lipped about its location. The Nanjinger’s money would be on either IST Mall on Changjiang Lu or the Nanjing International Centre. That is, if it all hadn’t long ago found its way to Cupertino.


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