From the images released today of Apple's new Hangzhou store in China, it's clear that Apple isn't building retail spaces — it's building experiences. You don't go to an Apple Store to buy things, you go there just to go there. Seeing these stores in person is an event. The products you can buy there are secondary.
While this isn't a new notion by any means, these new images really hammer it home.
Which other company in the tech industry or any other would put so much thought, effort and money into its retail stores. From WIRED:
If the new Hangzhou store is any indication, Foster + Partners are looking for ways to make its already pared down Apple stores even more minimalist. But in doing so, they’re pushing the limits of what can be done with modern structural engineering. Take a closer look: The Hangzhou store’s ceilings are almost 50 feet high, with no columns to be found. The façade of glass panels reaches from floor to ceiling without interruption, meaning Foster + Partners had to push well beyond their previous feats in glass manufacturing to get 11 seamless panes. (By contrast, the glass cube that leads to Apple’s heavily trafficked subterranean Fifth Avenue store in New York is 32 feet tall, and the curved glass entrance to the store’s Shanghai store is 40 feet in height. The Cupertino campus itself will use enormous glass panels that are curved.) [...]
Even the bolts used for the staircase are precisely embedded within the glass steps, creating the illusion of a glass staircase that’s hovering off to the side.