That would be just in time for the iPad Mini going on sale. Coincidence?
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Could Apple (:AAPL) be on the verge of announcing its new store concept, Apple
Store 2.0, just in time for the iPad Mini going on sale on Nov. 2?
Apple Store 2.0 on Nov. 2 -- get it?
Before Steve Jobs passed away, he wanted to pioneer taking the already class-leading Apple retail store experience to the next level. As a result, he commissioned this Apple 2.0 pilot store to be built within walking distance of his Palo Alto, Calif., home, on University Avenue.
I have been watching the construction for the last year, and it seems the Apple Store 2.0 is now nearing completion. Recently, I climbed up on a roof across the street in order to take a picture. The scaffolding is gone, and all the glass is covered in black tape. I can almost smell the coffee from the opening party.
What will be found under this tape and glass? Will there be trees and grass on the floor? Will the typical Apple Store 1.0 look have changed? You betcha!
And what better time to unveil Steve Jobs' last and physically largest masterpiece, than on Friday, Nov. 2, when one can surmise the iPad Mini goes on sale! Or maybe it will be called the iPad Air, reflecting the great laptop brand name also mimicking the "airier" nature of this new Apple Store 2.0 which may contain trees and grass on the floor?
Aside from the Apple Store 2.0 being one of Steve Jobs' last pet projects, fully invented and designed before his passing little over a year ago, Apple will also need something to counter increasing competition from Google. Last Thursday afternoon, I brought the all-new revolutionary $249 Google laptop, made by Samsung, to an Apple store and flipped it up.
When I put the Google (:GOOG) laptop next to the 11.6 inch Apple MacBook Air, the army of Apple sales staff jumped on me in a collective heart attack. Samsung made a copy of the MacBook Air? How much is it -- $1,000 or $1,500? When I told them $249, or 75% less than their MacBook Air's starting price, their faces became whiter than a headache pill.
Apple had better pray that its superior marketing machine stays superior to Google's non-existent marketing machine. If Google ever opened 400 stores selling a $249 laptop that in many ways looks like a copy of the MacBook Air, it would be a tougher time for Apple. Google's problem is that consumer awareness of its PCs is closer to 0% than 1%. Apple's consumer awareness is closer to 100% than 99%.
Mind you, Google's PCs have already been selling for well over a year, even though the price was $300-$550. It's been a tree falling in the forest. Great product, almost non-existent marketing. Zero Google stores.
Do the experiment for yourself: Flip open the $249 Google/Samsung laptop and put it next to the $999 (and up) 11.6 inch MacBook Air. See any difference? I see one. The Samsung logo.
What about the software?
I can hear the hate mail in my mailbox already. "But the $249 Google laptop isn't a real computer. It doesn't run any programs. It's just a browser."
Those arguments are similar to: "But that diesel car doesn't have any spark plugs. It doesn't require service every 5,000 miles." Sorry, but those are not so much objections as they are reasons to change.
Here is the reality: Many people do only the following things on their PCs:
2. Google Docs/Drive.
3. Google Calendar.
4. General web surfing and related web apps.
That's it. I don't know how many people in the world use advanced programs such as Adobe Photoshop. Seven million? Well, there are seven billion people in the world. Million versus billion. Let Microsoft (:MSFT) and Apple battle it out for those 0.1% of the world's population, then, and let Google sell its $249 laptop to the other 99.9%.
Microsoft Office? So far, after 22 months of use, I have found that Google Docs (and Google Drive) do everything I used to do in Microsoft Office. Such as typing this article. Tell me again why I need Microsoft Office?
Honestly, there is only one thing I miss from Microsoft Office, and that is Outlook. This program had a superior address book -- much better than anything from Google and Apple. Sadly, Microsoft itself has abolished Outlook from its new Windows RT operating system. You cannot load the only program that was uniquely attractive to Microsoft -- Outlook -- onto Microsoft's new operating system, Windows RT. Who was the genius who thought of that?
There is no doubt that both Apple and Microsoft have recently introduced software to narrow their competitive disadvantage with Google in terms of productivity tools. MS Office as well as Apple's equivalent are now available in a cloud context on their own mobile devices.
However, they are either relatively poorly implemented for those who use other mobile devices, or unavailable on other devices at all. Want to use iCloud on your Android or Windows device?
Can't do it.
Google Docs has the three following advantages against Apple and Microsoft:
1. It is easier/faster to use.
2. It is available on more (hardware) devices from competitors, e.g., Google Drive is an app on iPhone and iPad.
3. It can be had optimized in a $249 laptop, at least 50% cheaper than Microsoft and 75% cheaper than Apple.
Bottom line: The Apple Store 2.0 will dig where Apple's ground is soft: Superior marketing, superior image, high-end quality. There are too few Microsoft stores, although the few ones in existence are excellent -- and Google still thinks it doesn't need stores at all.
Google is making a mistake here. It's got products ideal for the 99.9% of the world's seven billion people, but almost nobody have even heard of Google's $249 laptop. Apple has expensive high-end products surrounded by superior marketing in superior stores.
And Microsoft? Well, "Daddy, what was Microsoft?"
At the time of publication the author had positions in AAPL, GOOG and MSFT.
This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.