Two new Apple Stores opening in China on Friday, and each was a big deal in its own way. Resembling an airplane hanger made of aluminum and glass, the store on Nanjing Road in Shanghai is the largest in the region with four floors, over 20,000 square feet of space, and 300 employees. The more humble store in Hong Kong is notable less for its size--it's only two stories and 16,000 square feet--than its significance. As the booming international city's only Apple Store, The Wall Street Journal says the Hong Kong store will serve as a "powerful marketing tool" to convert the relative (and frankly ironic) scarcity of Apple products in China into blockbuster demand. "The mainland Chinese have the idea that things sold in Hong Kong are of higher quality, and trendier and fashionable," Credit Suisse analyst Gabriel Chan told The Journal. "For a brand, if you have a shop here in Hong Kong, it's good advertising."
On Thursday, journalists got a sneak peek of the Hong Kong store, which is anchored by one of Apple's trademark spiral staircases:
In Shanghai, however, the focus is a little bit different, but the staircase is roughly the same:
As a whole, the building resembles a glass tunnel, through which Apple hopes to corral hundreds of thousands of customers every year.
The rash of fake Apple Stores in China has helped build buzz around the opening of a new flagship in the country's largest city, but in an attempt to preserve the brand, Apple actually patented some of the Shanghai store's unique design elements. For the most part, however, the basic look and feel is not dissimilar to Apple Stores in the United States--Long tables littered with Apple devices:
Plenty of helpful employees in blue T-shirts:
And scores of customers willing to wait in line as long as it takes: