Apple Almost Built a Futuristic Cybercafe in 1997 With Computers at Every Table

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Feb 13, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Around the time former Apple CEO Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the company considered building an "Apple Cafe," a fanciful, futuristic cybercafe where people could gather to eat, do business, and use Apple computers. The idea was created in partnership with Mega Bytes, with Apple planning to license its name and brand.

    Former Disney Imagineer and Landmark Entertainment Group founder Tony Christopher was tasked with coming up with a design for the concept, and in a new interview with Fast Company, he shared images of what the cafe might have looked like and the story behind its conceptualization.


    Jobs was reportedly involved in the design process, choosing Christopher's team because of their work creating unique retail spaces. Jobs wanted a way for Apple to connect to customers, which led to the idea of a cafe equipped with Apple products. A computer was at every table, where people could do things like order food, watch movies, surf the web, design web pages, and play video games.

    A predecessor to the Apple retail stores we know today, the cafe was also meant to sell Apple products to consumers. The images don't resemble the clean, simple design of Apple Stores today, but the central idea - connecting with customers - inspired both the cafe and Apple's eventual line of retail stores.

    Apple's original plan was to build a flagship Apple Cafe in Los Angeles and then expand them around the world. Apple was far enough along in the design process that there was a website promoting the Apple Cafe, and planned openings in Paris, London, New York, Tokyo, and Sydney, but the stores never materialized.

    While Christopher says the idea was sidelined in favor of Jobs' plan for an "Apple Store," press information released by Apple at the time said Apple's business partners had pulled back. From 1997:
    The first Apple Store eventually opened in 2001 under the leadership of Ron Johnson. Over the last 16 years, Apple Stores have expanded to more than 20 countries, with Apple operating 491 stores around the world.

    Article Link: Apple Almost Built a Futuristic Cybercafe in 1997 With Computers at Every Table
  2. farewelwilliams macrumors 68020

    Jun 18, 2014
    jony would have designed coffee cups that wouldn't fit in anyone's cupholders.
  3. usersince86 macrumors 6502


    Oct 24, 2002
    Columbus, Ohio
    Imagine if they served Starbucks and Panera bagels, too... ;)

    Buy an iPhone 7 Plus and get one free Venti and one everything bagel.
  4. Michaelgtrusa macrumors 604

    Oct 13, 2008
    This would have been nice. They can now have this inside the new Spaceship campus.
  5. hlfway2anywhere macrumors 65816

    Jul 15, 2006
    This probably would have become irrelevant shortly after mobile tech became so prevalent. We don't need Apple to loan us a display model. We already have 2-4 of our own devices to pick from and we can use them anywhere we want.
  6. RogerWilco macrumors 6502a


    Jul 29, 2011
  7. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    Or the coffee would've been smaller every year in the obsession with thinness.
  8. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    How many people around here would have starved because they refused to eat food unless it was Apple food, and the nearest Apple cafe was just too far away for day-to-day nutritional needs? ;)
  9. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

    Jul 12, 2016
    Agreed. With mobility and portability being the primary, this would have been short lived or revamped to accommodate today's technology needs. Definitely an interesting concept to read about.
  10. Xavier macrumors 68030

    Mar 23, 2006
  11. brownpaw macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2010
    This is reminiscent -- and relevant, given the mention of Disney -- of what Disney did with the food area at DisneyQuest in Orlando. DisneyQuest opened in 1996, when most people were very new to the Internet (and masses just starting to branch off of AOL and similar services) so they had the grand idea of putting rotating touchscreen computers on each table to shepherd people into the world wide web.

    Of course, these became very dated very quickly, and were slow as molasses. But whatevs.
  12. gavroche macrumors 65816


    Oct 25, 2007
    Left Coast
    Coffee (in its liquid form) can't be "smaller."
    But it can be thinner :D
  13. brucewayne macrumors regular

    Nov 8, 2005
    Makes sense - two movies of that era with Apple Computers (early powerbooks) in the main characters hands.
  14. BMcCoy macrumors 68000


    Jun 24, 2010
    No, the publicity and posters for the first Independence Day movie used "ID4" as its tag line/abbreviation.
  15. brucewayne macrumors regular

    Nov 8, 2005

    Change the OS9 style buttons to iOS, integrate that webcam and its not far off an iPad...
  16. Kaibelf macrumors 68020


    Apr 29, 2009
    Silicon Valley, CA
    I think they made the right choice by avoid this. It would have been like a Planet Hollywood or Rainforest Cafe.
  17. itsmilo macrumors 68020


    Sep 15, 2016
    Nearly just chocked on my coffee reading this
  18. B.K. macrumors regular

    Sep 5, 2014
    Interesting concept, beautiful artwork.
  19. CE3, Feb 13, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2017

    CE3 macrumors 65816

    Nov 26, 2014
    Perhaps this is what spawned the Genius Bar.

    And to think..if the Apple Cafes had happened and were still around today, my $5 grande latte would probably be considered a bargain ;)
  20. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

    Jul 12, 2016
    It would have been a very short life span. Mobility would have killed this concept in due time. At least, leading into a wireless world where we are now.
  21. Tinmania macrumors 68040


    Aug 8, 2011
    I would have said in 1997 the beginning of the mobile tech was still a decade away--a time I would say begin after the first iPhone was released. So still plenty of time for it to work.

    But considering this is Apple I would imagine all the dickering around with design would have meant it wouldn't have opened till 2009.

  22. iDemiurge macrumors 6502


    Feb 7, 2011
  23. Coffee50 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 23, 2015
    During the late 90's, "themed eateries" were in. Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock, there were even model theme (Fashion Cafe) & sports (that NBA one).

    Although, at the time, I could see why it was proposed. It took the theme eatery a step further with potential productivity, but I don't think the long term prospects would've been good. Those style restaurants eventually died out (excluding major tourist hubs).
  24. CE3, Feb 13, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2017

    CE3 macrumors 65816

    Nov 26, 2014
    I think it could've worked, it just would've had to evolve with the times. Yes, it's a wireless mobile world, but cafes and coffee shops are still incredibly popular. In fact, all the mobile devices indirectly contribute to their continued success because of all the people who use them at these places.

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