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Poisoned Apple?

CNET.com.au's Ella Morton shares her impressions after a visit to the Apple store on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Ella Morton

commentary I recently visited the shiny new Apple store located beneath a glass cube on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

The expansive subterranean space was the epitome of minimalist Zen chic, with iPods and MacBooks lovingly showcased atop blonded wood benches. Amid the hushed reverence, clean-cut employees wearing lanyards made from iPod casings sauntered through the throng of Mac acolytes, smiling serenely.

The whole place was just so ... sedate. In a city resplendent with "Fuggedaboudit" sass and notoriously prickly people, the Apple store seemed an anachronistic Pleasantville of clean lines and smiling citizens.

Given this retail tranquillity, I was surprised upon my return to read two reports of Apple laptop woes on CNET.com.au. Both Intel-based notebook models are the subject of grumblings from early adopters, whose enthusiasm has been rewarded with bursting batteries (MacBook Pro) and wrist rest discolouration (MacBook).

It's no good having a slick and pretty store if your smiling customers go home to thigh-burning laptop batteries and swiftly sullied surfaces. But the "All is well, continue as normal and they won't suspect a thing" approach is nothing new for Apple, who are notoriously disinclined to admit that their products might fall short of being perfect.

For a company that has cemented a space in the hipster crowd via an emphasis on creative lifestyles and individualism, it's been a rough few weeks. Claims that iPods are being produced in Chinese sweat shops threaten to tarnish Apple's image among its No Logo-reading target market. Add these latest laptop issues and the company is beginning to look like a supermarket Granny Smith -- smooth and shiny on the outside, but none too tasty once you sink your teeth in.


The descent into Apple land


...where everybody's feelin' fine


The Willy Wonka-esque glass elevator


A fine selection of chic accessories


The glass cube at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue