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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 15th July 2016 > THE HOLLOW-CORE MESSAGE


The new Apple Store in San Francisco is a shiny example of an empire in decline

ENTERING THE NEW Apple Store in San Francisco’s Union Square, I felt as if I’d stumbled upon some distant outpost of the late Roman Empire, a crumbling fort in the Welsh countryside that is a reminder of glories past, but also of the passing of all glories. For the glory of Apple is inevitably passing, the company having posted its first quarter of revenue decline since 2003, back when iPods were the size of baseball mitts. In the past year, Apple’s invasion of China has been slow, and like Alexander the Great, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has found India difficult to conquer. As went Rome and Constantinople, so must go Cupertino.

The new store is Apple’s “first global flagship,” I was told by employees on each of my visits. What this means was never explained, probably because it has no meaning, the kind of corporate jargon that was once beneath Silicon Valley’s merriest band of computer geeks. Nevertheless, this opening marks an important occasion for Silicon Valley and all those who worship its products. Apple gadgets are never just phones or just watches, and its stores are never just stores, which is likely why your iOS device autocorrects Apple store to Apple Store. Shopping there suggests a kind of cosmopolitan sophistication. It is a place where you can consume without feeling like a consumer.

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