Apple has opened a store in a Waterloo, Ont. mall just a few minutes drive from rival Research in Motion's corporate headquarters.
This news item reminded me of an incident back in the summer of 1990 in Toronto's Little Italy area. The World Cup of Soccer was going on and my team, Italy, was about 20 or so minutes away from playing in the World Cup final, at home. I'm a Canadian, but of Italian decent and I love the game of soccer. After ever Italy game my friends and I took to the streets of Little Italy to celebrate with others. Many times the opposing team supporters drop by in a show of good sportsmanship. Well, the sad news was that Italy ended up conceding a tying goal to Argentina and then lost on penalty kicks. So there was no celebration, but many Italy fans still went down to Little Italy along with those that supported Argentina. Well as you could guess tempers flared and fights insued. Not all, but several Argentina fans said in a story in theToronto Star newspaper the next day they intending on coming to Little Italy to rub salt in the wounds.
I wonder if Apple is doing the samething. Are they kicking RIM when they are down? The Blackberry maker just announces layoffs of 2,000 workers and its Playbook tablet is not a runaway success. The first question I had was why would Apple set up shop in a small town. If you compare Waterloo to Toronto, which has two Apple stores; it doesn't compare. Waterloo is not a big market city. It's a small town. The timing of the store opening is suspect if you ask me. There are 336 Apple stores worldwide mostly in the U.S. (240). And, a good number of them are in major metropolitan centres such as New York, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, London, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Munich and Toronto.
Waterloo has a population of 120,000 people. The optics look bad, not that Apple would care mind you. But if you do some research you'll find Apple stores in small towns such as Gilbert, Ariz., which has a population of just over 200,000. And, one of the very first Apple stores opened in a small town of 20,000 in Virginia called Tyson's Corners.
So maybe we need to be fair to Apple. Waterloo has plenty of affuent people who love technology. And, maybe that's the real reason why Apple is there.
At the ground opening there was a huge line up of customers waiting to get in. Apple was giving away free T-Shirts for the grand opening, but I think people would have lined up regardless of the promotion.
What does this mean for RIM? I'm sure a lot of the staff there see this store as a kick in the teeth from their rival. But just as in soccer the ball is round and can go anywhere. So can the market place. I, for one, will not be writing off RIM anytime soon.