As I have pointed out in years past, crime blotters may be the better measure of who's on top in the consumer technology market. And once again, the winner is Apple.
This year, Apple stores continued to be broken into, sometimes the criminals using stolen cars to break down the front windows. This can be a significant cost issue for Apple, not just for the additional security. The glass and metal finishings require attention from contractors specializing in polishing these materials.
Here are a few of the reports I pulled in a quick search:
Westampton, N.J. Police in Burlington County are asking for the public's help in identifying an armed robbery suspect who was caught on camera.
At 7:46 p.m. Saturday, Westampton police were called to the Verizon Wireless Store on the 1800 block of Burlington-Mount Holly Road for the report of an armed man. Upon arrival, patrol units spoke with the store manager who stated a man wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt, khaki pants, a ski mask, and white Nike sneakers charged into the store wielding a handgun.
Once all of the money was in the pillowcase the suspect demanded the store manager to escort him to where the iPhones were located. The suspect demanded that the manager fill the pillow case with all of the Apple iPhone 5s. Once the iPhones were placed in the pillowcase the suspect ran out the back of the store and into a nearby neighborhood.
The suspect fled the scene with several Apple iPhones and a undetermined amount of cash.
Note that there must have been plenty of other phones being promoted at this store. I'm a Verizon customer and all the paper promotions I received were about Android phones.
Berlin. Berlin police are investigating if today’s burglary is related to several similar crimes in the city over the past week. At about 4:15 a.m. this morning, witnesses say a black Opel Corsa sedan left the roadway, sped across the 40-foot wide sidewalk without striking Apple’s outdoor product display fixtures, and crashed into the middle door of the store. The vehicle never made it inside the store, but the suspects then stole display products and fled in two cars.
In the U.S., the series of nighttime burglaries prompted Apple to install steel security grates over most of its stores with any vehicle access. But during a 2012 burglary of the Temecula (S. Calif.) store, a BMW drove through the security grating and then became trapped inside the store.
It appears that the Apple Store architects will need to design protective concrete bollards that will protect the windows and doors. Much like an embassy.
Willingboro, NJ. Township police are investigating a home invasion robbery Monday by two men armed with handguns.
Two men wearing all black clothing and ski masks brandished handguns during the 5:30 p.m. robbery at a home on Sandstone Lane. They stole a video game console and an iPhone, according to police radio dispatches.
No cash, no clothes, only an iPhone and a game console?
Milton Keynes, Middleton, England. A 22-year-old man was robbed of his Apple iPhone 5 on Tuesday morning – by a thief wearing a Christmas jumper.
Police are appealing for witnesses to the incident which happened between 11am and 11.30am close to the cricket pavilion in Evans Gate, Oldbrook.
The jumper it appears is better than military camouflage during the holidays.
And the trope about the lack of crowds in Microsoft Stores continued this year. At Slate, Matthew Yglesias showed photos of a busy Apple Store and an empty Microsoft Store and said this was evidence for the "firing" of Steve Ballmer.
The real issue is that there's nothing wrong with the store. It's a great place to shop. Much better than the Apple Store, really, because the Apple Store is crowded, and it's a little hard to get an employee's attention. At the Microsoft Store you get a very pleasant physical environment and a helpful staff. It's just that nobody wants to buy their stuff.
Harry McCracken at Time Tech riffed on the crowds theme, observing that "plenty of people are buying Microsoft products." He said he found Microsoft Stores "surprisingly pleasent:"
By contrast, Apple has always catered to those who value refinement and aren’t terribly price sensitive. And Apple Stores can be small and selective without trying to compete with big-box retailing — because there’s no such thing as an enormous brick-and-mortar store with an Apple focus.
I’m sure that the point of the Microsoft Store chain was never to generate obscene profits or steal business from other merchants. Microsoft wanted an opportunity to show its ecosystem in the best possible light, and to talk to its end customers without having to involve an unreliable middleman such as Best Buy. But if the stores I’ve visited are representative, I assume that the company is disappointed with how the chain has done.
And so am I. Maybe PC buyers prefer a lowest-common-denominator shopping experience. They’ve certainly been conditioned to expect it.
Instead, I would point the problem that Microsoft and its hardware partners have spent the last decade telling customers that there are no significant differences between Wintel platforms and that a cheaper machine is better. Now, it looks like there's a class difference and all the aspiration is leaning towards the Apple side.