McDonald's in Chicago is the latest Apple Store copycat - but not the first by far

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 10
McDonald's new flagship store is making a clear effort to mimic the Apple Store. AppleInsider takes a look at the plan, and also a takes a look back at Microsoft, Sony, and others who have "borrowed" elements of the Apple Store aesthetic in retail.

The new, Apple-like McDonald's in Chicago


The Apple Store concept debuted in 2001, and in the years since Apple's retail move has thrived, growing to more than 500 stories in 24 countries.

There are many reasons for the Apple Store's huge growth, and it's even more astonishing for another reason. Retail, in that same time frame, has largely collapsed, at least in the United States. Many chains have closed, and the ones who have survived have needed to come up with a compelling reason to attract customers who could just as easily order online.

And in that time, some companies have decided the easiest route is to borrow significant elements from the Apple Store.

The Apple McDonald's

The latest to do that is, of all businesses, McDonald's. The fast food giant announced this week that it has opened a new flagship store in downtown Chicago that features a wood-and-glass aesthetic very familiar to anyone who's ever been inside an Apple Store.

The store, which is on the former site of the famous "Rock N' Roll" McDonald's on Clark and Ontario streets, is less than a mile away from the Apple Store's Chicago flagship on Michigan Avenue. McDonalds also recently relocated its global headquarters to the Windy City, to the former headquarters of Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions.

The inside of the Chicago McDonalds


According to a press release, the new store is part of the McDonald's "Experience of the Future" concept.

The goal, the company says, is to "dramatically enhance the customer experience with more convenience, personalization and choice. McDonald's EOTF restaurants leverage the convenience and technology of kiosk ordering and table service, the increasing functionality of the mobile app and the hospitality of the McDonald's crew members all in a more modern and exciting restaurant environment." Not all of the future stores will be quite as sophisticated and feature-laden as the Chicago one.

Here are some other companies that have taken inspiration from Apple in their retail endeavors:

The Microsoft Store

The Microsoft Store


Microsoft, in 2009, launched a retail concept which was close to identical to the Apple Store's in both design and strategy. Not only that, but Microsoft made a point of locating its most of its stores in close proximity to Apple's.

Despite various analyses that Microsoft stores are never as crowded as Apple stores, the concept has been successful, with more than 100 Microsoft Store locations now open worldwide.

The Sony Store

In the early 2000s, Sony had a small retail chain in a few U.S. cities, called Sony Style, which reached at its height around 20 locations.

The Sony Store


In 2011, Sony pivoted the concept and turned it into the "Sony Store," which looked a great deal more like an Apple Store than previous Sony retail locations had. The effort was not successful, and Sony phased out the concept in 2015.

Samsung Experience Shops

Samsung experimented a bit with standalone Samsung Experience stores, including one down the street from the Apple Store cube at New York's Time Warner Center in the early 2010s. Samsung also opened popup locations at such events as South by Southwest in Austin.

The Samsung Experience store


The concept has since transitioned to a "mini-store" within Best Buy, but continues to bear more than a passing resemblance to the Apple Store. Ironically, Samsung recently launched a series of ads set inside a fake Apple Store.

Tesla

Companies that copy the Apple Store don't usually admit it while doing so. But Tesla Motors' Elon Musk did just that in a 2007 blog post on "The Perfect Tesla Store."

"The type of place we are striving for combines the feel of an Apple store, a Starbucks, and a good restaurant," Musk wrote of his nontraditional dealership concept. "The reason I mentioned Apple as an influence is that their stores are beautiful and stylish, but also simple, fun, and friendly at the same time. Those qualities are what we want to see in our Tesla Stores. We will put as much energy into making our stores look good as we do with our cars."

A Tesla store in Los Angeles


Tesla has continued to use a look at its locations that more resembles an Apple Store than a typical car dealership, while also using a sales model that's out of the ordinary in the auto industry.

Imitation and flattery

While Apple has spent the better part of the last decade in litigation with various rivals over whether they copied different aspects of the iPhone, it does not appear Apple has ever sued anyone for copying design elements of the Apple Store. Apple didn't invent the use of wood, glass, or uniformed employees in a retail store, nor were they the first to open a branded retail store for its products after not having one previously.

It would appear that Apple is happy to have created a hugely successful retail arm, at a time when the retail industry has gone in the opposite direction, and that Apple is confident that it can compete with rivals who have elected to borrow key elements of its concept. But in the case of Tesla and now McDonalds, competition isn't such a concern.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 51
    grifmxgrifmx Posts: 74member
    hahaha - would be interesting to know how much all these different designers and copycat designers got paid! when everything looks like an Apple Store, then Apple will have to do something different yet again
    edited August 10 claire1watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 51
    alexmitalexmit Posts: 112member
    The original Apple Store concept evolved from a designer Apple hired from GAP retail store design if I'm not mistaken. I seem to remember fanfare around the whole thing as a press release posted by Apple.
    SpamSandwichaylkwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 51
    irelandireland Posts: 17,474member
    Microsoft need more logos on the front of their building.
    mwhitepatchythepiratejbdragonclaire1dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 51
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,417member
    That design is completely antithetical to the anti-health products (nee "food") McDonald's sells. There really is no way to gloss over the fact that the Standard American Diet (SAD) is a root cause of nearly half of U.S. healthcare costs. Just as cigarets should cost $25/pack to cover the associated healthcare burden, a Big Mac should cost $25 a pop, too. Slow poison is what McDonald's sells.
    edited August 10 aylknetroxiqatedowatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 51
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,737member
    Now if they could only copy the cuisine from the Apple Campus Cafes.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/25-amazing-dishes-at-apple-headquarters-2014-10
    patchythepiratewatto_cobraphilboogiejony0
  • Reply 6 of 51
    1. This is a modernist aesthetic that exposes structural elements, something referred to as structural honesty. Apple does not employee this type of aesthetic. 
    2. All glass systems were around decades before Apple started using them. This particular McDonald's uses a structural mullion system for the glass, something Apple has not done for a long time since they first went to a structural glass system in New York City at the Cube. 
    3. No one would mistake this interior for Apple.
    It is quite a stretch to say that this McDonald's is copying their aesthetic of Apple Stores. 
    gatorguyIreneWpscooter63aylkkestralclaire1asciiwatto_cobraDavidJHuppkingofsomewherehot
  • Reply 7 of 51
    McDonald's has lost their way. All this is is a wood and glass, cashier-less cafeteria.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 51
    But McDonald’s had the Mac first.
    SoliSpamSandwichtechrideraylkp-dogracerhomie3normmkestralgrifmxclaire1
  • Reply 9 of 51
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,052member
    McDonald's has lost their way. All this is is a wood and glass, cashier-less cafeteria.
    I rarely eat at McShit, but the cashier-less McDonald's are great. It's way better using the machines to place your order. 
    netroxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 51
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,737member
    cpsro said:
    There really is no way to gloss over the fact that the Standard American Diet (SAD) is a root cause of nearly half of U.S. healthcare costs. Just as cigarets should cost $25/pack to cover the associated healthcare burden, a Big Mac should cost $25 a pop, too. Slow poison is what McDonald's sells.
    You really can't blame American fast food chains for the poor dietary choices Americans make. There is nothing particularly unhealthy about a Big Mac. The problem starts when a person eats three per day, everyday, along with sodas and fries. If you only ate one McDonald's meal a week and the rest of the time fresh fruits and vegetables, you'd be fine. Obesity, is for the most part, a personal choice.

    As far as cigarette usage is concerned, America is much lower than Eastern Europe and Russia. Nicotine is a difficult addiction to break but at least in the US there are programs that work, so again it is a personal choice. As long as you are talking about unhealthy habits, I would rank alcohol use right up there with the others and the worst countries are again Eastern Europe and Russia.
    boltsfan17pscooter63JanNLracerhomie3designrzoetmbanantksundarambrucemcmarklarkjony0
  • Reply 11 of 51
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,406member
    ireland said:
    Microsoft need more logos on the front of their building.
    You'd think they'd have non so at least people would mistake it for an Apple Store before realizing where they are.
    edited August 10 claire1watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 51
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,406member
    But McDonald’s had the Mac first.
    It’s a “towering” sandwich called the Big Mac, and it’s still highly configurable. :smiley: 
    Rayz2016brucemcwatto_cobraphilboogie
  • Reply 13 of 51
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,406member
    McDonald's has lost their way. All this is is a wood and glass, cashier-less cafeteria.
    I hear that about McDs almost as much as I hear it about Apple, and yet both companies are willing to make changes as society changes and constantly keep improving efficiency.

    Their mobile app is pretty great if you are going to eat there. Always ate least a dollar off in deals, but you can possibly up to $4 off a single meal.
  • Reply 14 of 51
    I find it quite ironic that Apple Stores have more windows than actual Microsoft Stores. 
    claire1watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 51
    Soli said:
    But McDonald’s had the Mac first.
    It’s a “towering” sandwich called the Big Mac, and it’s still highly configurable. :smiley: 
    And still tastes worse than the packaging it comes in.

    zoetmbwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 51
    nytesky said:
    1. This is a modernist aesthetic that exposes structural elements, something referred to as structural honesty. Apple does not employee this type of aesthetic. 
    I think you're making too wide of a generalization with Apple's store designs. Malls or historic buildings or underground settings? Yeah, you're not typically going to see much exposed structure. But the structural glass stores would definitely be just as "honest" as this design. You also need to consider that McDonald's is probably using a ton of laminates for the tables and seating, so the "honesty" only goes so far. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 51
    thrangthrang Posts: 745member
    That's a lot of cash to put in a building that will have an per-transaction revenue average of about $6.00... got them some PR, that's about it....
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 51
    ireland said:
    Microsoft need more logos on the front of their building.
    Haha...Made me laugh. :)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 51
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,417member
    volcan said:
    cpsro said:
    There really is no way to gloss over the fact that the Standard American Diet (SAD) is a root cause of nearly half of U.S. healthcare costs. Just as cigarets should cost $25/pack to cover the associated healthcare burden, a Big Mac should cost $25 a pop, too. Slow poison is what McDonald's sells.
    You really can't blame American fast food chains for the poor dietary choices Americans make. There is nothing particularly unhealthy about a Big Mac. The problem starts when a person eats three per day, everyday, along with sodas and fries. If you only ate one McDonald's meal a week and the rest of the time fresh fruits and vegetables, you'd be fine. Obesity, is for the most part, a personal choice.

    As far as cigarette usage is concerned, America is much lower than Eastern Europe and Russia. Nicotine is a difficult addiction to break but at least in the US there are programs that work, so again it is a personal choice. As long as you are talking about unhealthy habits, I would rank alcohol use right up there with the others and the worst countries are again Eastern Europe and Russia.
    Oh, yes, we really can pin the blame on the food industry, along with a complicit government. There is a lot that's unhealthy about a Big Mac. The Big Mac would not be at all popular if its sauce lacked sugar and there was no ketchup to add. The bun is fiberless, nutrition-less junk calories. Take note that sugar is a key ingredient in almost every item on Starbucks' menu and has been added to 3/4ths of the items on shelves in a typical grocery store. Sugar is highly addictive, non-essential, and not satisfying for more than an instant. Should one blame the addict or the pusher? I blame the pusher. Just 10 superfluous calories consumed per day (1 Big Mac every 2 months) adds up to 1 pound of weight gained per year in the form of fat. Our over consumption of sugar and other fiberless carbohydrates are the cause of a plethora of diseases and conditions.  But products based on sugar and carbs are very stable for long-term storage, which permits the food industry to ship and store products world-wide, spreading disease and death along with their commerce (nice tax revenue for governments).

    Yup, alcohol is a carbohydrate, too, in the same class of slow poisons as table sugar and corn syrup and even fruit juice. Even moderate drinking is unhealthy.

    Sure, sugar consumption is a choice, but just try to cut out sugar. It takes tremendous willpower in the face of widespread prevalence of sugary products, flashy advertising, and a populace that is all just as hooked as you are and will look at you like you're crazy when there's so much fun to be had by consuming sugar in so many creative ways.  There's a reason obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease, possibly dementia (type 3 diabetes?), etc. have risen dramatically since fat was demonized in the '70s. Due to "evidence" promoted by the sugar industry, sugar and other carbs replaced much of the fat in our diet. But people don't know how to properly regulate their sugar intake, and sugar causes more health problems than fat.

    Knowledge is power.
    edited August 10 patchythepirateiqatedowatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 51
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    People want to be brands and brands want to be people. The future isn’t even dystopic in an interesting way.



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