Vent It: Apple store. Much ado about nothing?

Apple takes hype to a new level. Three levels in fact.

Apple's new Sydney retail store, officially opening tonight, is a ram raiders delight. The shopfront is spectacularly dressed in 15 metre high panels of German-designed, laminated glass, which the company says gives prospective shoppers on the street a clear window to its sleek products. The nearby haute couture stores, which have been targeted in the past by fashinista crims, are probably saying hallelujah to the welcome distraction.

At a media preview on Wednesday journalists were encouraged by Apple's senior execs and then constantly reminded by Apple's overly friendly staff - look out Virgin 'Great service and smiles thrown in for free' Blue - to soak up its architecture: glass stairs, maple bench tops, Italian tiles and polished aluminium walls. (Computerworld looked for Grand Designs' Kevin McCloud for his critical assessment, but he must not have been invited.)

Apple has the distinct ability to generate a lot of buzz about its products: think iPhone, MacBook Air, Apple TV, iPod. In fact, anything it manufactures. The store is no exception, and had punters camping out simply to be among the first to hand over their money.

But it is just a store...one in which all of the products have been available for purchase from Apple resellers, Apple's own Web site or large and small retailers for quite some time. In its defence, the top floor of the three-level store is dedicated to hands-on (and mostly free) professional services for both newbies and Mac tragics, providing access to help users cannot get as easily elsewhere.

So does the opening of a store warrant such hype? Does this store excite you? Can it be explained why people salivate over the Apple brand? And is it healthy? Let us know what you think.

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