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Summary:

Apple Store To Go Virtual? That’s the theory of MacNN, at least, citing an Apple patent application published on the US government site last Thursday, somewhat obscurely entitled “Enhancing Online Shopping Atmosphere”. The patent application’s stated goal is to create an online shopping experience that doesn’t […]

Apple Store To Go Virtual? That’s the theory of MacNN, at least, citing an Apple patent application published on the US government site last Thursday, somewhat obscurely entitled “Enhancing Online Shopping Atmosphere”.

The patent application’s stated goal is to create an online shopping experience that doesn’t feel “sterile and isolating” like a traditional retail website, and includes a diagram depicting stick figures walking around in a retail store with an Electronics, Books, and Music section, underneath a sun– i.e., MacNN speculates, in a virtual world like Second Life. “[V]isitors are represented by avatars selected by those visitors,” the application notes, “rather than a more generic or uniform icon.”

So does this mean Steve Jobs is going to show off his avatar in a virtual Apple store at the next big Mac show? Possibly, but even with my pronounced Second Life bias, I’m more than a touch skeptical. Companies file all kinds of patents that go unused, as a way of preemptively staking out territory.

What’s more, while the patent office published the application last week, it was actually filed in September 2006– at the height of Second Life over-hype, months after a May ’06 BusinessWeek cover story convinced a crush of big companies that they had to set up a marketing presence in SL like yesterday. (A wave that’s since ebbed to much more sensibly modest proportions.)

Still, when a Second Life user built an unofficial Apple Store last year, it generated tremendous buzz (as the 270K views of this YouTube video suggest.) MacNN notes that, Apple has experimented with virtual world-like sites before with eWorld. So for now, I’m filing this rumor under Definite Maybe.

Hat tip: SL blogger Tinsel Silvera.

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  1. Alan Wilensky Saturday, April 19, 2008

    From the bad ideas department: Take a responsive shopping site where busy folks can find and order things expediently, and make it into a slow, awkward 3D world site.

  2. Just another stupid idea by the kings of stupid ideas! I hope they waste a billion dollars on this!

  3. Written eight months before Apple filed their application: http://blog.rebang.com/?p=577 (might want to skip down to “Okay, so let’s piece things together” in bold).

  4. Apple might get lot more visitors to the site but no real buyers.

  5. SCOGOSTOLOGY.COM On Apple Store Sunday, April 20, 2008

    I believe the store will be a huge success because Steve Jobs and Apple Inc., have good track record of success. It is obvious he is “King Midas of the Computer World” because everything he touches turns into gold, becomes popular and profitable.

  6. The Watch – virtual worlds in the news : The Metaverse Journal – Australia’s Virtual World News Service Sunday, April 20, 2008

    [...] GigaOM – Apple Store To Go Virtual? “Apple Store To Go Virtual? That’s the theory of MacNN, at least, citing an Apple patent [...]

  7. NEVER…EVER…use the phrase “like Second Life” when describing a virtual world.

    Never. It is wrong. Every time. Ther can never, no, there must never be anything else “Like Second Life”!

    And to suggest, even remotely, that Apple, of all companies, could ever, ever produce something so awful, so terrible, so un-good as Second Life just makes it sound like you wrote this before you made coffee.

  8. the store will most likely be a hardware based site, much like the Playstation, Xbox, and Wii stores. Most likely will distributed on the Apple TV and other devices. Sounds fun.

  9. FuzzLinks.com » Apple Store to go Virtual Sunday, April 20, 2008

    [...] A patent application’s stated goal is to create an online shopping experience that doesn’t feel “sterile and isolating” like a traditional retail website, and includes a diagram depicting stick figures walking around in a retail store with an Electronics, Books, and Music section, underneath a sun– i.e., MacNN speculates, in a virtual world like http://gigaom.com/2008/04/19/apple-virtual-world/” rel=”dc:source” property=&#8221… [...]

  10. Apple Store to go Virtual | Universe_JDJ’s Blog Sunday, April 20, 2008

    [...] read more | digg story [...]

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