3 quickie trend observations: wed, thurs & fri
Wed., Nov. 18 (NYC) – I dashed into the newest Apple Store that opened in NYC on the Upper West Side. I was surprised by the speed of my transaction. I needed an accessory for my laptop prior to giving a presentation. I entered the cavernous sleek, industrial space and a “genius” on the floor found me. She not only knew her stuff, – exactly what I needed for my model computer – she brought the item to me. Still standing in the front door, I handed her my credit card, she swiped it on an i-phone-like device, asked if I wanted the receipt e-mailed to me? I replied, “yes”, no signing or punching of PIN numbers needed for transactions under $200. I walked out of the door. I was in the store for 4 minutes, got exactly what I needed and did not need to step more than 10 feet into the store. The future of retail will see more of the “mountain being brought to Mohamed”, where bricks-and-mortar retail borrow the best of search, browse and check-out from online retailing.
Thurs, Nov. 19 (NYC) – The first chic urban McDonalds “lounge” has hit America. Located at 15th Street/6th Ave. I experienced these new “zhuzhed up” McDonald’s in Paris this past summer. The Mickey-Ds downtown is not quite as cool as its Euro-sisters, but it’s definitely worth a trip (http://tinyurl.com/yhaama6). Plasma TVs. Coffee-house lighting. Dutch design furniture. Flowers on the tables. Artwork and cool graphics on the walls. Free WiFi and recharging outlets. Interactive kiosks. Clean, mod restrooms. The staff in black… not quite The Delano, but the hippest QSR experience I’ve had since I dined at Danku (http://www.danku.com) on 57th Street. Families on budgets can finally get a Happy Meal for their kids in a place with a nice ambiance (sans fluorescent lighting). We’re going to see more QSR chains improving their dining experiences, seeking “third place” share of market – exciting times ahead for brand experience designers.
Fri. , Nov. 20 (Miami) – Had a conversation with my friend David Polinchock about retail trends in NYC and we discussed our mutual excitement about augmented reality technology. Slowly, we’re seeing a convergence of the analog and digital worlds with emerging technologies that are enhancing (augmenting) real life (not to be confused with “virtual reality”). That is, “layering” technology into life in news ways. Here’s an example: if you have an i-Phone with a compass, camera and GPS system (standard issue) all you do is simply point it and look through it, as if you’re taking a picture. You see whatever the lens is pointed at (i.e., real life), but you will also see information on the screen; facial recognition software can tell you about a person in the frame; info pops up onto the screen such as the nearest subway station or details about restaurants within sight or just beyond. Or, if you point your phone to a house that’s for sale the specs and price pop up. Point your phone at a landmark and info, music and voice narration plays like a museum’s “headphone guided tour”. Cell phones are becoming our lenses – filters and information providers – layering onto real life. Augmented reality means that we can look through our cell phones and “browse” and “search” the real world. (Check out a great YouTube example of augmented reality here).