Monday, July 2, 2007

When is an Apple store not an Apple store?

The answer to that apparent metaphysical question is simple: In France, when it's an outlet of the celebrated chain of retail stores named Fnac [pronounced as two syllables: feu-nac].

The Fnac's so-called Apple Shop in the Latin Quarter of Paris, named Fnac Digitale Odéon, with an area of over 300 square meters, certainly appears to look and taste and feel like an Apple store... except that it ain't. This shop is part of an ordinary retail chain, founded half-a-century ago by French Marxist militants named André Essel and Max Théret. The latter gentleman was even a personal bodyguard of Trotsky. How's that for professional reconversion?

Personally, as a Macintosh enthusiast and a Fnac customer, I look back with delectation upon all that has been happening in the Apple domain ever since that delightful day in the early '80s when Jean-Louis Gassée, the charismatic chief of Apple France, placed a personal computer in my hands and told me prophetically: "William, this machine is going to change your life."

Friends have often thought that I like Apple in the simple way that a French automobile owner such as me might prefer Citroen to Renault. No, my association with Apple is far deeper than that. It started when I was confronted with a bulky paper document containing instructions to software developers. I was enthralled to discover that the Apple company was determined to enforce principles concerning the quality of human interfaces with their computers. In other words, if a would-be creator proposed software with a shitty user interface, Apple would simply disallow it. Under the inspired guidance of Steve Jobs, all the rest followed. Shitty software was simply prohibited. A nice simple idea. That's Apple.

Today, I'm immensely proud of my three antiquated Apple books:

They demonstrate retrospectively that I'm not simply climbing onto a bandwagon. I really believed in this firm right from the start. And I still do, more than ever. Apple thinks differently and knows how to get computing right.

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