Belfast Apple StoreWhat a bunch of fickle flakes!

I lived in Northern Ireland the first 24 years of my life, and have been a Mac user and Apple customer exclusively for the past 16 years. For that whole period, I was about the only Mac user I knew: none of my friends had Macs, none of them wanted them, and my attempts to convert people were fruitless. There was one measly store capable of dealing with Macs in the whole province of Northern Ireland and I had to order everything from England. Friends laughed when I told them they were wasting their energy on Windows, and I laughed when they told me they’d never buy a Mac. When I moved here along the Arizona/California state line, on the other hand, I was in Mac heaven. Apple was founded in California, it is based in California, and California is the state with the most Apple stores, by far. I married a girl who’d grown up in California using Macs and her dad is the founder of a California company which supplied hard disks to Apple and others.

As a close Apple-watcher, I’d known about the iPod ‘halo effect’ for some time; the idea that people who buy the iPod will eventually consider buying a Mac. It seems that it’s working back in my hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The same place which, for the entire time I lived there, was an Apple wasteland, has suddenly gone Mac-crazy! The launch of Belfast’s new Apple store provoked scenes I would never have believed in a millennium of Irish computer-using:

Hundreds of people have queued outside the new Apple store in Belfast for its first day of trading.

What? I couldn’t find a single person who’d be interested; suddenly there are hundreds?

The Victoria Square complex opened in March amid great fanfare, but it is fair to say that the Apple store launch brought an extra touch of American-style pizzazz.

No kidding! The store itself is nothing special – it’s a run-of-the-mill Apple Store – but it’s the first Apple retail presence on the island of Ireland, and people actually want to be there. It’s a revolution! In the past couple of years, I’ve been hearing about this friend and that acquaintance getting a Mac back in Belfast, and my dad’s been telling me that some of his friends are switching too. Crawley bought a Mac and an iPhone after years of PC-using. My buddy Stephen has been a PC user for a long time and now uses a Mac to run his Belfast web-design business. People in Northern Ireland have finally worked out which is the superior computing platform.

And, smugly, from the other side of the world, I can say: I told you so!