What Would an Apple-Run City Look Like?

We all know how vigorous and serious Apple is about their brand. Even when there’s a hiccup. Apple’s mastered the product launch, and gets everyone talking about them constantly.

The biggest lesson from Apple is really how far they’ll go to create a specific image to maintain and enhance their brand.

Apple’s currently planning to open a superstore in Montreal.

Great news for Mac fans.

And now we have news that Apple asked the city to remove 3 parking meters from in front of where the store will be to “simplify the look.” Parking meters are ugly after all – hardly representative of the Apple brand.

Apple was willing to compensate the city for lost revenues over 5 years. And guess what the city said? No.

It could have been a very interesting PR move for the city. They’d be promoting a reduction in traffic downtown (one of their goals), promoting the economy, and be able to climb on the back of Apple even further to promote Montreal as a cosmopolitan, techno-savvy place.

As the article says, “But bureaucrats say no; that’s what they do. ‘We’ve never done it before, so we can’t.’”

It makes me wonder what a city would look like if Apple managed it? What would Apple City look like?

September 11, 2007 Posted in Humor, Montreal by

  • Wayne Youngward

    So, does a city government run the city for the good of all its citizens, or does it run it for the good of a megacorporation? If they agree to this, what happens the next time some big multinational wants a “favour”? And the next time…
    Does Apple Corp. really think 3 parking meters will hamper its business?

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Ben Yoskovitz

    Wayne: The government is there to help the people, we all agree on that. Not that they accomplish that goal too often…

    Big multinationals ask for favors all the time. Bombardier and a host of huge companies get tons of tax credits that benefit them immensely. Of course, those tax credits are also designed to help those companies hire people…

    I think Apple was trying to be different, like Apple does. Had the meters been removed it would have been great, positive PR for Apple and the city. It would have also been funny / interesting as opposed to what it is now — funny / sad.

  • Wayne Youngward

    So, does a city government run the city for the good of all its citizens, or does it run it for the good of a megacorporation? If they agree to this, what happens the next time some big multinational wants a “favour”? And the next time…
    Does Apple Corp. really think 3 parking meters will hamper its business?

  • http://www.slevi.net/ Slevi

    Apple shouldn’t let themselves be turned down now, they should design 3 very special Apple’ified parking meters which include touch screen, the nice Apple design and which will play something random from iTunes on having made a payment!

    Now how could the city say no to that ;).

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Ben Yoskovitz

    Wayne: The government is there to help the people, we all agree on that. Not that they accomplish that goal too often…

    Big multinationals ask for favors all the time. Bombardier and a host of huge companies get tons of tax credits that benefit them immensely. Of course, those tax credits are also designed to help those companies hire people…

    I think Apple was trying to be different, like Apple does. Had the meters been removed it would have been great, positive PR for Apple and the city. It would have also been funny / interesting as opposed to what it is now — funny / sad.

  • http://www.fsbrainstorm.com Francis Wu

    Certainly, the removal of those parking meters could’ve been good PR for everybody. Despite Apple’s increasingly somewhat questionable tactics (think media distribution “monopoly”), I wouldn’t mind seeing a few of Steve Jobs’ ideas come to fruition. For instance, the ability tofire bad teachers.

  • http://www.slevi.net/ Slevi

    Apple shouldn't let themselves be turned down now, they should design 3 very special Apple'ified parking meters which include touch screen, the nice Apple design and which will play something random from iTunes on having made a payment!

    Now how could the city say no to that ;).

  • http://www.fsbrainstorm.com Francis Wu

    Certainly, the removal of those parking meters could've been good PR for everybody. Despite Apple's increasingly somewhat questionable tactics (think media distribution “monopoly”), I wouldn't mind seeing a few of Steve Jobs' ideas come to fruition. For instance, the ability tofire bad teachers.

  • http://www.leroux.ca/ WTL

    What I might want to look into if I lived in Montreal is to see I could find the specific person who turned the request down and talk to them about why they did that.

  • http://www.leroux.ca/ WTL

    What I might want to look into if I lived in Montreal is to see I could find the specific person who turned the request down and talk to them about why they did that.

  • http://www.beetlejuiceonline.com Beetlejuice

    That’s everyone’s nightmare, isnt it. A city or country run by a big beaureaucratic company. Makes me shiver to think about it.

  • http://www.fsbrainstorm.com Francis Wu

    Beetlejuice, I’m not sure if a company like Apple qualifies for a “bureaucracy”. If Jobs’ dislike for teachers’ unions is any indication of what he thinks of red tape, I would expect Apple to run a pretty tight ship.

    In retrospect, I can understand Montreal’s answer to Apple. Why throw money a their request when there are other things to worry about?

    Then again, this doesn’t prevent the city from throwing money at silly things like renaming streets.

  • http://www.beetlejuiceonline.com Beetlejuice

    That's everyone's nightmare, isnt it. A city or country run by a big beaureaucratic company. Makes me shiver to think about it.

  • http://www.fsbrainstorm.com Francis Wu

    Beetlejuice, I'm not sure if a company like Apple qualifies for a “bureaucracy”. If Jobs' dislike for teachers' unions is any indication of what he thinks of red tape, I would expect Apple to run a pretty tight ship.

    In retrospect, I can understand Montreal's answer to Apple. Why throw money a their request when there are other things to worry about?

    Then again, this doesn't prevent the city from throwing money at silly things like renaming streets.

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Ben Yoskovitz

    @WTL: I’m sure it was turned down because it’s novel. To get something like that approved would probably TAKE 3 years…

    @Beetlejuice: When it comes to bureaucracies I’d say governments win hands down no? And not in a good way…

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Ben Yoskovitz

    @WTL: I'm sure it was turned down because it's novel. To get something like that approved would probably TAKE 3 years…

    @Beetlejuice: When it comes to bureaucracies I'd say governments win hands down no? And not in a good way…

  • Moreau

    Apple should say “screw you” to Montreal and set up shop somewhere else. Any local government unable to see past the end of its own nose enough to accomodate such a minor request from a big company like Apple doesn’t deserve to have the boost to their economy that the Apple store would bring. Sure, there are evil corporations out there but I don’t know of any corporation that’s as evil, short-sighted, or just plain stupid like every government is at every level (local, national, whatever). Any time a company packs it up and leaves a dumbfounded local government behind because they were badly treated, I want to applaud.

  • http://www.leroux.ca/ WTL

    @Ben – I’m inclined to agree – but it would be good stuff to get on video.

    As for what an Apple-run city might be like; I would imagine that everything would look amazing and work well.

  • http://www.leroux.ca/ WTL

    @Moreau: The Byward market area of Ottawa would be a nice place for an Apple flagship store.

  • Moreau

    Apple should say “screw you” to Montreal and set up shop somewhere else. Any local government unable to see past the end of its own nose enough to accomodate such a minor request from a big company like Apple doesn't deserve to have the boost to their economy that the Apple store would bring. Sure, there are evil corporations out there but I don't know of any corporation that's as evil, short-sighted, or just plain stupid like every government is at every level (local, national, whatever). Any time a company packs it up and leaves a dumbfounded local government behind because they were badly treated, I want to applaud.

  • http://www.leroux.ca/ WTL

    @Ben – I'm inclined to agree – but it would be good stuff to get on video.

    As for what an Apple-run city might be like; I would imagine that everything would look amazing and work well.

  • http://www.leroux.ca/ WTL

    @Moreau: The Byward market area of Ottawa would be a nice place for an Apple flagship store.

  • http://www.bloggerbingo.com/aboutblogging/ Jayne

    I’ve seen cities bend over backwards to accomodate/buy off companies like Wal-Mart, for example, only to have those companies relocate or close down that branch a couple years later, leaving the city holding the bag for the promises instituted.

    Cities have to think long-term. I don’t know the details of the situation, but there could have been more to it than beaurocracy.

    ~J

  • http://www.bloggerbingo.com/aboutblogging/ Jayne

    I've seen cities bend over backwards to accomodate/buy off companies like Wal-Mart, for example, only to have those companies relocate or close down that branch a couple years later, leaving the city holding the bag for the promises instituted.

    Cities have to think long-term. I don't know the details of the situation, but there could have been more to it than beaurocracy.

    ~J

  • http://hervalicio.us/blog herval

    In my hometown there is a shopping center mogul that is actually the richest guy in town. He approached the government one of these days asking for tax exception in exchange of some construction and gardening just in front of the shopping center (ok, it made the neighbourhood REALLY a lot more beautiful.. but it was only a design thing). But at least they DID something

    I’m inclined to thing that if governments all became just toys of the megacorps, with their own interests and ‘that’s how I do it’ approaches, things would be definitely more organized (and dynamic), after all. But I guess we’ll see what happens very soon… :-)

  • http://hervalicio.us/blog herval

    In my hometown there is a shopping center mogul that is actually the richest guy in town. He approached the government one of these days asking for tax exception in exchange of some construction and gardening just in front of the shopping center (ok, it made the neighbourhood REALLY a lot more beautiful.. but it was only a design thing). But at least they DID something

    I'm inclined to thing that if governments all became just toys of the megacorps, with their own interests and 'that's how I do it' approaches, things would be definitely more organized (and dynamic), after all. But I guess we'll see what happens very soon… :-)

  • Pingback: Startup Signal - Today’s Top Blog Posts on Entrepreneurship - Powered by SocialRank

  • http://www.plastic-flamingos.com/ PinkPlasticflamingos

    Who know if Apple could turn the city into most admired city ..just as his company

Ben Yoskovitz
I'm VP Product at Codified (makers of VarageSale).

I'm also a Founding Partner at Year One Labs, an early stage accelerator in Montreal. Previously I founded Standout Jobs (and sold it).

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