At this point, I imagine it will be a surprise for few of you to know that Apple had, in 1996, a very ambitious project to open a chain of cyber-cafes called "Apple Cafe". We have already commented on this concept here at . Now, however, some new images and testimonials about the idea have emerged thanks to a report / interview by Fast Company, and we can turn over even more in reflections on a future that could have been.
To those who do not know the story, the legend goes that the “Apple Cafe” was a project started in the period immediately prior to the triumphant return of Steve Jobs company, that is, we are talking about a context (today unimaginable) of an Apple on the verge of bankruptcy, with a series of confusing product lines and low sales and an image that in no way resembled that of the jovial and inspiring company of the mid 1980s.
The idea was to revitalize Ma's brand and, at the same time, get quick and easy money to rebuild the company creating a space where people could get together and use the spoken and almost inaccessible (in 1996, remember) internet through Apple products.
The undertaking would be carried out in partnership with Mega Bytes, a British real estate company, and with the Landmark Entertainment Group, a company specializing in the creation of theme parks and leisure attractions founded by former Disney employee Tony Christopher. Not by chance, Christopher the interviewee from Fast Company which reveals some interesting details and images never seen before on the “Apple Cafe” mystical project.
According to him, who was primarily responsible for creating the concept, Jobs was involved in the development of the project when he returned to Apple in 1997. It was from the founder of Ma that the idea of equipping each table with an Apple computer, where people could do it your requests (it was really a visionary, this Jobs), watch movies, play games or, of course, enter the infamous internet. The idea was to create a highly high-tech, which would be reproduced in all points of the flag: the initial “Apple Cafe” would be built in Los Angeles and, later, the chain would expand to the main cities of the world, like Paris, London, New York and Tokyo.
Over time, however, Jobs decided to put the idea on hold to devote himself to another equally risky project he had in mind: official Apple stores. As expected, at some point in the process it became clear that both ideas had many overlaps, and Jobs and his gang decided to pass the knife once and for all on the “Apple Cafe” project.
This does not mean, however, that the almost 500 (!) Apple Stores that we have today do not keep, however small, some elements that originated in the idea of Ma's coffee. For example: one of the main ideas behind Apple Stores to leave the free visitor to do whatever he wants, without the interruption of an employee unless that is desired, that is, if you want to enter a store and spend the day using the internet on one of the Macs on display, no one will disturb you for that.
Another: in stores opened a few years ago, under the leadership of Angela Ahrendts, we see a renewed focus of the company in building, above all, living spaces more than a place of sale, Apple stores today are places of congregation. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the seed of this idea goes back to the late 20-year-old project, right?
The fact that the “Apple Cafe” didn't see the light of day, as cool as that could have been. Instead, Apple decided to take another path and incidentally became the most valuable company in the world.
Still, I wouldn't complain if I could reach Apple Morumbi and send it to Genius: "An iLatte, please."
(via The Loop)