Apple Reseller: Facebook for All

 
 
By Nathan Eddy  |  Posted 2009-02-09
 
 
 

Rumors and conflicting reports continue to spread around Apple's alleged blocking of the popular social networking site Facebook from its in-store product displays. On Friday the technology news Web site tinyComb posted an article proclaiming Facebook had been "banned for life" from Apple stores.

Over the weekend, various news outlets issued conflicting reports about the "ban," with some reporting that Apple had indeed followed the silencing of MySpace (in 2007) with the blocking of Facebook. "It's just trying to find a balance between letting people try out the computers, but not tying them up so others can try them as well," one Apple store employee told tech blog Ars Technica. One Apple representative told Forbes no "nationwide" ban is in effect, though it hasn't been made clear whether or not individual store managers can make the call to block access to Facebook.

Although Apple issued a denial that it is blocking access to Facebook, a spokesman for the social networking site told The Wall Street Journal he could understand why Apple may have blocked the site. He admitted he was not sure if stores had limited access to Facebook, but commented, "I guess with the economy being what it is, some Apple stores are forcing people to buy the computers before they are able to do what people increasingly want to do with their computer-use Facebook."

Michael Oh, founder of Boston-based Tech Superpowers, an Apple reseller and Internet caf??« located around the corner from Apple's Boylston Street flagship store, said his company doesn't have the millions of dollars Apple can throw at its stores to display products. "We've never been able to finance that type of installation," he said. "So we run an Internet caf??« [one of a handful of Mac-only Internet caf??«s in the country], and our following of tourists come in to pay to use the computers and that acts like a display center as well."

Lindsay Tower, administrative assistant for Apple's Boylston Street store-- the company's largest--said she hasn't noticed whether or not people are coming into the store just to use Facebook, adding Apple representatives don't respond to media inquiries at the store level.

Oh said loitering legions of Apple (or Facebook) addicts rarely clog the store because of the clientele Tech Superpowers serves. "We know the people who are going to walk in and buy an Apple will do that at an Apple store," he said. "Our operation is more aimed at businesspeople and things like on-site technical support and training."

While the storefront may be a place for small-business owners shopping for a Mac-based solution, Oh said tourists and city residents alike enjoy the caf??«'s wireless Internet and unrestricted access to the Web-and Facebook. "Whether or not Apple likes it, it's what people are doing. A significant percentage of the traffic we see is for Facebook and similar sites," he said. Our customers use Facebook and all the social networking stuff very extensively."

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