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Apple Store to go Virtual (non traditional retail site)
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Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:59 pm Reply and quote this post
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 shoppingexperience that doesn’t feel “sterile and isolating” like a traditionalretail website, and includes a diagram depicting stick figures walkingaround in a retail store with an Electronics, Books, and Music section,underneath a sun– i.e., MacNN speculates, in a virtual world likeSecond Life. “[V]isitors are represented by avatars selected by thosevisitors,” the application notes, “rather than a more generic oruniform icon.”

So does this mean Steve Jobs is goingto show off his avatar in a virtual Apple store at the next big Macshow? Possibly, but even with my pronounced Second Life bias,I’m more than a touch skeptical. Companies file all kinds of patentsthat 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 storyconvinced a crush of big companies that they had to set up a marketingpresence 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.

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