A line that started forming at midnight stretched around the block by 9 a.m./Photo: Lance Knobel

Nita Burris from Vallejo got in line at midnight. At 3 a.m., James Neal from Pleasanton joined her on Fourth Street. By 8 a.m. this morning, there were a couple of hundred fans queuing happily for the opening of the world’s 339th Apple Store, on Fourth Street in Berkeley.

If you have to ask why they were there, and why the numbers swelled steadily as the 10 a.m. opening approached, you clearly don’t understand Applemania.

“Why wouldn’t you want a free T-shirt?” asked Neal, who works in the Apple Store in Pleasanton, but still thought it was worth a 3 a.m. start. The first 1,000 customers today received a special Fourth Street-edition T-shirt.

“It’s a new store,” said Judy Tsang from Oakland. “We have to support Apple.” Tsang read about the store’s planned opening on Berkeleyside and said she’d been doing a Google search about it every day since the beginning of August.

Positively Fourth Street. The coveted Apple T-shirt

When they finally were able to get into the sanctum sanctorum, the eager Apple folk found what they have come to expect in every other Apple Store, except newer and shinier. The store has more than 50 employees, the majority from Berkeley and surrounding cities, but the numbers were boosted by workers from other Bay Area Apple Stores for the opening. Certainly a swarm of very pumped up employees — clapping and cheering each other at regular intervals — was massing in their distinctive blue shirts.

“We’re really excited about letting our first customers in,” said Leland Thompson, market leader for the East Bay market. He enthused about the long Genius Bar at the back of the store and invited the media present for the morning preview to try to stump Apple’s “geniuses”. The offer was spurned by all present.

Fourth Street was one of three Apple Store openings today. The other two were in Basingstoke, near London, and in Leganés, near Madrid.

Lance Knobel

Lance Knobel (co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine in Britain,...

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19 Comments

  1. This is “why”, partially, people need to fully stay away from the MS operating system at all costs i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oITxnPGSHvM&feature=related  This is only small portion of what you will be forced to deal with daily if not weekly.  I am going to start looking at the MAC OS and asking questions.  I understand that it’s built on a Unix platform, the same OS that Google uses.  

  2. I understand that this is both an emotionally changed as well as political belief issue and will just post this story below as it’s so disturbing for all involved, including us here in USA as per any new manufacturing, today, tomorrow and in any future that may unfold here.  I had no idea about the onslaught of robots in China, though that is also part of the equation of any manufacturing base here as well ( robotics ).  Whew, talk about an uncertainty index!  It makes a small to moderate hurricane or Icelandic volcano almost feel merciful in full honesty. I know not what the future or even next week bode for any of us [ in the middle class ] here in the USA now.  I would like to have the Berkeleyside interview Robert Reich and others on this very topic as well as take written ( email ) questions. There is no turning back with all of this.  

     Cheap Robots vs. Cheap Labor : 

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/cheap-robots-vs-cheap-labor.html?scp=3&sq=Foxconn&st=cse

  3. Microsoft is a very large global and pathologically paranoid as well as greedy and clueless monopoly / corporation.  Most monster companies are.  Their business model is vastly different along with their world view.  I have suffered and endured ‘Windows’ for some 20 plus years and would recommend it to *no* one who uses a home or small business computer w/o 24/7 professional IT support.  It can bring even the CS majors into rages or break them into tears.  My intent after all of my time on any MS product is to switch over when the larger money arrives into my life.  Until that day arrives, I will deal with it and yet hate it with a flaming red passion as per what it has drained out of me across time.  Avoid it at all costs *if* possible.  It is odd that they do not have a remote clue as to what the general public wants, needs, seeks or desires.  They are too big and too removed from people in the Apple demographic and don’t care about them.  If you have the $$$$ stay as far away from Microsoft as possible or be prepared to pay in pain and suffering that knows no boundary or limit.  You were forewarned 🙂

  4. Let’s look at the facts on this issue of suicides alone at Apple Manufacturing facilities in China:  

      “The suicides at Foxconn, which also supplies companies like Hewlett Packard and Dell, sparked concerns about working conditions in China’s sprawling electronics factories. Last June, Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, defended Foxconn during an appearance at a technology conference in California, saying it was not a sweatshop and that Apple was “over there trying to understand what is happening.”

    http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/15/apple-says-chinese-supplier-made-changes-after-suicides/?scp=1&sq=China%20Apple%20Manufacturing%20center&st=cse

  5. Well with all of the comments about Apple and China and Microsoft I’m just happy for the sales tax revenue hopefully coming from Emeryville!

  6. I work on both platforms all the time. Without sounding like a fanboy, I do think you get what you pay for with Apple. Agree with the positives in Works For Me post.

  7. I have been using Apple to run my business the past 6 years – working and interfacing with F’500 clients who use MS.  Apple is far easier to deal with than MS.  No viruses.  No spending my valuable billable hours endlessly “system restoring” stuff.  No crashing.  No freezing.  No need to be an IT guru to be able to manage one’s technology base.  Business bliss.

  8. Well, if  Windows was really  that awful, I don’t think 90% of the world’s computers would be using it then. And don’t tell me  things are different because of Apple’s wealth. We all know  that came about with  the Iphone and Itunes– their their computers; which still only represent 6% of the market.

  9. Aenar, the people who manufacture Apple products in China have some of the best working conditions available in the entire country. Do you know what the statistically “average” Chinese citizen does for a living? I’ve met several Chinese people in the manufacturing business when I’ve been to China (I used to conduct environmental audits at manufacturing plants), and they are far happier there than they would be working in a garment sweatshop or rice paddy. That sounds progressive to me.

  10. Too bad Microsoft can’t seem to make an interface that’s as easy to use as Apple’s iOS.

    I’m no Apple fanboy, but Microsoft’s operating systems are horrible in comparison.

  11. Amazing how progressives in Berkeley will line up to buy products made by poor people in China- for 50 bucks a day labor

  12. There’s a proper local lingo on that?  I’ve lived here over ten years, and I’ve never seen it written as only being “fourth” street.  

  13. There’s a proper local lingo on that?  I’ve lived here over ten years, and I’ve never seen it written as only being “fourth” street.