Apple moving to new, larger location in Santa Rosa Plaza
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 12:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 6:39 p.m.
As iPhone enthusiasts descend on stores for a chance to buy the new iPhone 5 on Friday, a new and bigger Apple store will make its debut inside Santa Rosa Plaza on Friday morning to roll out the latest version of the popular smartphone.
Verizon, Sprint and AT&T stores are also opening early at 8 a.m. Friday and anticipating long lines, despite an onslaught of negative reviews about the new Apple Maps software deployed this week on the iPhone 5 and other Apple gadgets.
Cluttering the buzz of the long-awaited iPhone 5 release, early reviewers lambasted its new mapping software, Apple Maps, which replaces Google Maps and comes with the company's new operating system, iOS6. Bloggers and journalists from the BBC to the Wall Street Journal reported amusing flaws in the maps program, including an Irish farm labeled as an airport and a British museum floating in a river.
The new Apple store, set to open at 8 a.m. Friday inside Santa Rosa Plaza, is several times larger than the old space in the downtown Santa Rosa mall. The store will be located on the mall's first level, across from the Payless ShoeSource store and closer to Sears than the old location.
“There's a lot of people in there, and I'm sure it's going to be crazy tomorrow morning, so it will be good,” Amy Huber, 29, of Santa Rosa, said Thursday.
Around noon Thursday, a dozen Apple employees in blue T-shirts helped customers shopping for iPads and MacBooks or asking for technical support.
“It's always so hard to move around, and it's hard to hear because it's so noisy,” said Kathryn Schrerer, a retiree who lives in Santa Rosa. “My husband has been complaining for years, ‘Why don't they get something bigger?' It shows how popular Apple is.” Two storefronts down, a small construction crew applied fresh paint to the walls around the new store's exterior, which was blocked off with thick black curtains.
The mall will open its doors at 7 a.m. Friday to shoppers seeking to buy the new iPhone, mall manager Laura Kozup said in an email. A staging area will be established on A Street between the mall and the parking decks for people who arrive early to line up for the new gadget.
Many iPhone and iPad users can test-drive the new mapping system by upgrading to iOS6, which was launched Wednesday. Tim Aboudara, 32, who works for the Santa Rosa Fire Department, tried the mapping software and was pleased.
“It's pretty awesome,” Aboudara said. “Santa Rosa is not 3-D yet, but I used it a little bit to see what it's about, and I haven't had any problems with it.”
Devotees of Google Maps can still use that system by launching it in their web browser, but the Google Maps App is not pre-loaded on new devices.
“I'm a little nervous about the maps, because it's how I get around,” Huber said. “Without it, I'd be lost.”
On Twitter, iOS6 Maps became a trending topic, with users tweeting screen shots of bridges and highways that appear, erroneously, as though they collapsed.
“Apple wanted to say they can do it without Google, and they showed they can,” Aboudara said. “Apple doesn't let anything sit on the shelf that's not perfect so I'm sure they'll figure it out.”
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