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Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy ... coming to you today from the brand new Apple store overlooking Union Square, in San Francisco. Just two months old, this store may be one of the nicest, coolest stores that Apple ever has opened. It is two levels, with the top level largely devoted to training, education and the Genius Bar, and the bottom level focused on products.

But it is the open design of this store that really appeals to me, and, I think, to a lot of customers. First, the interior is laid out so that the second floor is a kind of mezzanine that looks out over - and seems connected to - the bottom floor. But even more impressively, running along the length of the building on two sides are these enormous doors that they are able to open up, essentially eliminating entire walls of the store - creating a retail environment that sort of merges into the surrounding neighborhood. It is a wonderful design conceit, and not surprising, since Apple always has made design a high priority in its products and retail locations.

Apple's retail boss, Angela Ahrendts, recently was quoted as saying that she wants Apple Stores, wherever possible, to function as "town squares." She said, "We don't really need to open more stores, but we need to open incredible places that almost behave like a town square, like a gathering place. Right? So when all the events start to turn on, that's what, you know, we want you to meet people at Apple. See what's happening."

That's what this Apple Store delivers. In spades.

One new idea just unveiled by the company - it is no longer calling its stores the Apple Store. As in, "Apple Union Square," as opposed to "The Apple Store Union Square." It would seem to be an effort to recast - subtly - these locations as more than just stores, but rather as living, breathing organisms that are part of the broader Apple ecosystem.

Now, I was talking to a friend of mine who wondered if Apple was spending so much time designing great retail experiences that it is not focused enough on designing great products. I understand where this comes from - I think most people would agree that Apple is on a bit of a design plateau at the moment. It has been a while since the company has come out with a knock-your-socks-off product.

But I don't think this is entirely a fair observation. These two things - products and retail - are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the pipeline for new development on both sides of the business probably is so long that it is almost impossible to have them both on the same track at the same time.

Here's the deal. Apple - like any retailer - has to have both compelling new products and engaging new stores. it isn't a matter of choosing between the two.

It is entirely possible that next week, Apple will come out with the next great technology innovation. Or it could be next month. Or next year. But it can't let progress - or lack of progress - on one side of the business dictate the schedule of progress on the other. What's most important, on both sides of the business, is to continue to think big, dream big, and come up with big new ideas.

I'm think this kind of approach always is a good idea.

That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

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