Blog Post

Apple Store To Go Virtual?

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”. [digg=]

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.

31 Responses to “Apple Store To Go Virtual?”

  1. I think regardless of whether or not they roll it out, it is a sweet idea. I’m sure there are plenty of programmers out there with capabilities of creating an ecommerce store like Apples proposed idea.

  2. Mr. Telidon

    quote: It is obvious he is “King Midas of the Computer World”

    As accurate as this may be, the traditional manner by which to refer to “the Steve’s” remarkable supernatural abilities is that he is possessed of a “Reality Distortion Field”. There are a number of quite humorous discussions of this floating around the ‘net but I like A. Hetzfeld’s the most ‘cuz he got zapped very early on…

  3. Helmysty

    If people had enjoyed using recently patented Apple HMD for music, video playing etc. on iPod/iPhone/Mac , then it’s easy for people to go to Apple Virtual Store (AVS).. All connected seamlessly, virtually,… Apple once again will be the leader of Virtual World. This is going to be huge…. Watch next big Mac Show………

  4. The dotcom consultancy I worked at in 1999 / 2000 in Melbourne Australia acquired a company that had the goal of developing virtual reality shopping. They even got a local high-end real-estate agent (Talbot Birner Morley) involved with the idea that they were going to auction off virtual real estate.

    It was a stupid idea at the time for the same reasons that it is a stupid idea now. Why translate the inefficient parts of the real world shopping experience to the web. People don’t want to walk about in virtual worlds looking at virtual shelves and virtual storefronts. They want efficent search and straightforward transactions.

  5. I’m going to agree with the masses here. How could this ever be profitable? And why would you want to transform a simple POS (Point of Sale not Piece of Sh*t) system into a game? Just not going to happen.

  6. 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.

  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.