|Apple's first store, New York City, May 2001|
The Apple II was launched in 1977. It was not until May of 2001 with the launch of mature products such as the iMac (twenty three years later) that Apple opened its first retail store.
Prior to this, home computers were distributed either as kits or units via electronics shops or magazine adverts, or at enthusiast conferences. The reasons for the then 'unusual' move to open a shop was explained by Steve Jobs at the time as:
1. Exposing more people to the Apple brand and products.
2. Inviting new users to the Mac experience -- the Mac community
3. Providing a place where Apple could showcase the benefits of the Mac lifestyle.
4. Through the Genius Bar, giving customers a place to come to for technical assistance.
5. Honing Apple manufacturing and distribution, which would later benefit products like iPod and iPad.
In today's fast moving, 'consumerized', tech-saturated world, is 3D printing following the same path? If so, then the pace is vastly accelerated. Or are consumer oriented 3D printer companies just impatient and we'll soon have the equivalent of a 3D printing 'dot bomb'.
|Inside MakerBot Store NYC|
|MakerBot Store NYC|
Just as with the first home computers, consumers who are not hobbyists need 'a place to go' to experience the new gadgets at first hand, to find out what the buzz is all about, de-mystify the geek-speak and understand whether or not they too need a 3D printer.
Such 'experiences' are increasingly a critical part of commerce.
|3DEA NYC 2012|
Recently in conjunction with leaders of the consumer 3D printing industry such as Shapeways, Open House have created 3DEA.
|Learning at 3DEA|
It aimed to deliver a precursor experience of the future store.
The 'experience' was free and open to the public and offered an Inventor Bar, Product Customization Center, DIY 'maker' hub, Body Scanning classes and lectures. At 3DEA you could customize, invent and materialize your own product ideas, with the help of experts. Part fun and part education.