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ATPM 11.05
May 2005



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Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life

by David Blumenstein,

The Apple Store SOHO—My Small Office/Home Office Away From Home in Manhattan

Apple has officially opened one hundred and two retail stores across the United States and the world. The one in New York City’s SOHO district, is arguably its largest and best equipped. The store includes a phalanx of fully workable computers, printers, and a wireless network, along with a host of preconfigured, ready-to-use peripherals. Moreover, the Genius Bar exists as a safety valve if anything unfortunate were to happen to my trusty PowerBook.

Armed with these resources, my PowerBook, mobile phone/headset, and few choice pieces of software, I am well on my way to making the Apple Store my very own personal office. The seminar area affords me comfortable seating, strategically-placed electric outlets, and a clear path to the restrooms. I can easily schedule business meetings with clients and colleagues around the seminars, and if need be take them to one of the benches in a quieter section of the store for a more focused one-on-one.

And it is not just the store in Manhattan; I could very well set up shop across the country and in a few select international sites. The store itself is conveniently located to some fine shopping and dining establishments, and if proper attire is an issue, I have all the fashion stores on Broadway between Houston and Canal Streets from which to choose.

Still, some pieces are missing to make this work. I shall need software that will allow me to work and communicate over someone else’s servers, increase my desktop screen area, and most importantly save me money. The applications described below are a starting point, and their number should increase with each subsequent visit to the office/store.

Once these are installed, I can be up and running in no time, and be able to send and receive e-mails, take part in instant messages and group chats, and make and receive Internet-based phone calls to and from my colleagues. Hence, costs stay down and productivity goes way up.

I planted myself down one rainy Monday and spent the day in to the evening working from the store. Surprisingly, the only people who came up to me were individuals having problems with their hardware who could not deal with the interminable lines at the Genius Bar. Other than that, the day sailed by with me writing up reports, virtually collaborating on a project, remotely connecting to servers on-site, and making a phone call via the Internet to smooth over rough spots in the project.

What did take me back was something I remembered from my days hanging out at CompUSA stores when they first opened. People will say and do the darndest things in public, and in a computer store you are a bound to learn more about what drives a consumer, and what particular aspect of targeted marketing they pick up on.

The Mac mini comments were eye-openers. I heard phrases from “It’s so small” to “That’s not a computer, it’s a media center.” Perhaps the most intriguing statement, mentioned by more than a few, and I shall paraphrase, was “Now we don’t need to purchase one of those G5 desktop computers, rather leave the mini plugged in at home and take a twelve-inch notebook on the road.”

The concept of the carpetbagger office is not for everyone. It takes a certain personality to not only pull this off, but also attempt it in the first place.

While, I am not ready to have business cards printed up with the Apple’s SOHO store street address, I am curious whether some adventurous soul has taken the plunge. Starbucks had better watch out. There is no reason Apple’s retail stores could not draw java-crazed e-nomads away with an iCafé in concert with their in-store Genius Bars. I can see the job posting now: “Looking for an experienced Coffee Barista and Apple Genius, equal parts aptitude and attitude.” Well, maybe not equal.

My 10:30 AM appointment just came in. Stop by the office later and we can chat in person.

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Reader Comments (17)

Adrian Gomez · May 3, 2005 - 00:51 EST #1
Great article. Too bad the Apple store in Charlotte is a mini store.
Steppenwolf105 · May 3, 2005 - 00:52 EST #2
What a great idea! I am going to try this at the San Francisco Apple store. The only problem is that I no longer have any Apple hardware, well, save for an Apple IIe stashed away in my garage. I wonder what would happen when I show up at the Apple store with my laptop running Freebsd/Linux/WinXP. This one laptop is all the computer I need whenever I work away from from home in the past 2 years.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · May 3, 2005 - 01:51 EST #3
Steppenwolf - Apple store? With a Wintel laptop?

Death wish?

Kidding. Had to say it.
Wern · May 3, 2005 - 11:27 EST #4
Of course, it's always possible that if a lot of people start doing this, Apple will start charging them rent for using an Apple Store's resources. The iCommercialSubLease, anyone?
aka · May 3, 2005 - 11:40 EST #5
Great article. Good suggestions regardig Postfix Enabler and Skype - thanks!

And yes, I think an iCafe in the SoHo store is a great idea. Let's hope Steve & Co. are reading this.
Shanaaz · May 3, 2005 - 13:28 EST #6
Great article after reading this I feel I truly need a mac since I dont know much about Mac in South Africa ..reading these articles inspire me to transform to one...
Zee · May 3, 2005 - 13:32 EST #7
I had my Mac for a long time here in South Africa and had no idea I could do all what you just suggested ...I am excited about using the Skype on it now ...Thanks for this great article.
Daniel C. Silverstein · May 3, 2005 - 21:24 EST #8
I can totally identify with this. Owing to a recent dispute with PG&E (i.e. the power company here in Northern California), I have no power at home, and I've fled from my cold, powerless home office to San Francisco's many cozy cafes that provide free wifi. Good coffee, a fantastic work environment and great people watching to boot (better than a tropical fish tank IMO).

The following are key elements of my road-warrior's arsenal:
- My trusty 12 inch Powerbook.
I've been writing lots of code lately so I think I may upgrade to a 15 in the near future...

- Kensington's 70 Watt interchangeable AC adapter for Powerbooks and other gadgets:
I didn't think it was possible to love a power brick. But I do. They got everything right. There I was in CompUSA ready to splurge on a spare official Apple power brick for my Powerbook (one to leave at home, and one to keep packed in my bag) for a mere... uh... seventy bucks?!? And then I saw the kensington brick, sleeker, with interchangeable tips (including one for the ipod included at no extra charge), for the same price. Sold.
The brick is smaller and lighter than the apple brick. One end has a small (3 inches long or so), rugged dongle that ends with a standard 2 blade AC polug. The other end is where the long cord that runs to the powerbook attaches. I haven't measured the cord, but it's at least six feet. It's long. Spectacularly, usefully long. And it comes with a nice velcro tiewrap to boot. Prior to this, I had never gotten complements on my power brick.

- Treo 600. iSync to iApps, natch. I'm tempted to upgrade to a 650 for bluetooth goodness and camera non-suckage, but thus far haven't given in to temptation. I charge it off via my Powerbook's USB ports using a retractable charge and sync cable from
One thing I love about the Powerbook is that it still powers the USB ports even when sleeping. I couldn't charge my Treo off my old iBook when it was in sleep mode.

- And the most excellent incase Sling Pack to carry it all... more compartments than you can shake a stick at:
The original incase Moya Pack kicked butt. I still have mine, but it's not as big as the Sling Pack. I don't like the new Moya Deluxe. It's big, but woefully undercompartmentalized.
Felix Schwarz, from Germany · May 4, 2005 - 08:24 EST #9
Eine durch und durch interessante Idee! Jetzt muß Apple nur noch hierzulande ein paar Retail Stores aufmachen .. ;-)
David Blumenstein (Author) · May 4, 2005 - 08:51 EST #10
Felix brings up a very intriguing point. Germany is without an Apple Retail Store. Why are there so few abroad? There are but 5 stores outside the confines of the United States. Japan has 3 and England 2.

Memo to Steve and Co. - The European Union is here. It is not going away anytime soon and Germany is an integral member.

jeepbastard · May 4, 2005 - 09:11 EST #11
great outline for the mobile business warrior, but I think you should investigate other options than skype. It's proprietary and therefore not quite moving as fast as other voip solutions in terms of innovation.
brattycat · May 6, 2005 - 20:51 EST #12
Sounds like a good setup, but I agree that coffee and snacks would make it even better.

Thank heavens you're not hanging out at CompUSA anymore ;-)
David Blumenstein (Author) · May 9, 2005 - 06:50 EST #13
The MUG (Macintosh User Group) Center website. The premiere online resource for MUGs all over the world picked up the Apple Store SOHO article and not only provided a link but some commentary as well. It is excerpted below:

The Apple Store SOHO—My Small Office/Home Office Away From Home in Manhattan was published APTM 11.05, and describes why David finds the Apple Store in SoHo to be a perfect remote location to transact business. And he's right.

There is the added benefit of having your own personal cache of Mac hardware, software and peripherals at your fingertips just in case you forgot something or the need arises.

For the Mac fan, it creates an opportunity to show off all the cool Apple equipment to an associate. Depending on your business, this may or may not be appropriate, but it isn't hard to imagine a couple minutes perusing the latest Mac models as a terrific ice-breaker at a first or second meeting. "C'mon Tom. I need to pick up a new PowerBook. Help me decide which one."
LeneGirlNYC · May 9, 2005 - 22:39 EST #14
I have to agree. I love the Apple store in SOHO. It's my favorite. I went there on Easter Sunday to buy my G4 PowerBook, when low and behold the store was closed. Outside, there were all these people standing around with their laptops. It looked like a big sit-in, or a bunch of groupies waiting for the concert to begin.

I use skype and love it. And you are right, all it's missing is a coffee bar.

I'll be there in the be there in the next couple of weeks to pick up my iPod.
stewart ferrell · May 10, 2005 - 00:30 EST #15
Yes, The apple store is an oasis. A quick place to catch up on where to go and a convenient place to peruse technology and get a little work done.
Georg Dauterman · May 10, 2005 - 11:39 EST #16
As an onsite consultant the apple store is a great resource to get equipment and software in a pinch. The other great thing is that in the summer it is a cool place to check your mail and collect your thoughts.
C.C. Chapman · June 16, 2008 - 15:09 EST #17
A great article indeed and now you have me thinking I should give the one in Boston a try to see how it goes. Also, thanks for the recommendations of PostFix. I can't live without the other applications, but that one I haven't tried but now must/

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