Apple today peeled off the blue boards concealing its George Street Sydney store, where a handful of Apple fans have already started queuing for the official opening at 5pm tomorrow.
The three-storey George Street store is Apple's 215th store and the second largest in the world — topped only by Apple's Regent Street, London store.
How Telstra's T-Life staff will see the Apple store
(Credit: Munir Kotadia)
Despite the store's size, it wasn't enough to bring CEO Steve Jobs to Sydney for the opening. Instead, Ron Johnson, Apple's senior vice president of retail, surrounded by a protective wall of blue and orange-shirted staff, told media that the building is a "window into Apple".
Windows dominate the Apple store. According to Johnson, the 15-metre high panes that make up the 700-square-metre glass atrium are the world's largest. The panes extend the height of the building, facing Telstra's own flagship T-Life store.
"It's really interesting architecturally, because what it does to most people is it puts a giant window to Apple. It's an invitation for people to come in. From George Street, you can see every single product we carry," said Johnson.
There are 90 MacBooks — Pro and Air — housed across five large IKEA-like pine tables and a bar that runs along the edges of the brightly-lit store. The laptops are permanently connected to the internet, and ready for customers to use.
The second floor houses Apple's smaller devices, such as the iPod range, and will likely be home to the highly anticipated iPhone.
The third floor is home to Apple's Genius Bar, where 20 Apple tech support staff — the people in the blue shirts — are available to answer questions. It will also be home to Apple's first Pro Labs centre, which will offer free training sessions in Apple software during June and July, such as movie editing suite, Final Cut Pro, the music editing software, Logic Pro, and photography software, Aperture.
"At the centre of the top floor, is the largest Genius Bar we have ever created," said Johnson. "We also have two separate areas for personal training."
"It's the first store in the world to provide Pro Labs. You can sign up for free for a month-long series training classes, on things like Final Cut Express — how to make great movies," he said.
With 125 staff, Johnson reckons the Apple outlet will be able to offer 1,000 personal training and Genius appointments per day.
For tomorrow's official opening at 5pm, Johnson doesn't expect bad weather to stop people lining up: his first store opening in Tokyo was disrupted by a typhoon warning. Despite the weather, he said 7,500 eager fans lined up anyway.