So let’s say that you’re an Apple fan. You’ve followed the company for years, watching keynote presentations the moment the link becomes available, obsessing over the most recent product rumors, even writing about the company on a regular basis. Now, let’s also say you find yourself with some extra time on your hands and one of the incredibly popular Apple Retail Stores nearby. Do you take the opportunity to go into the store and bask in the physical incarnation of the company in whose products you are so interested? Or do you instead, kick back with a cup of coffee at the Starbucks across the street?

Unless you have some deep seated hatred for Starbucks (or their particular roast of coffee) my guess is that any self respecting Apple fan chooses to at least take a look in the Apple Store first. I mean, there has to be some new shiny MacBook or iOS device you have yet to try out in person, right?

Why is it then that when I’m in this same situation, I feel that the better choice has been to sit at the Starbucks across the street and just leech off of the Apple Store WiFi? I’ll tell you why. It’s because the Apple Retail Stores aren’t for people like me. If I have a problem with an Apple product, its likely that the current staff can’t answer my question (three times now that’s happened, two hardware, one AppleID).

Alright you say, then call support or fix it yourself, but what about that aforementioned shiny new hardware?

Testing out new hardware would be a lot of fun, if there was a good way to get a real feel for the equipment. Sure, you can flick and scroll and pinch-to-zoom, you can pop open Safari and see how the screen looks, but you can’t really get a feel for how it compares to the machine back home.

First you have to go into System Preferences to enable tap-to-click; then if you’re really picky, further down the rabbit hole for double-tap and hold for drag-and-drop. With that done, you’re ready to test this machine out. Fire up that favorite app. Nope. It’s not installed, nor does the Alfred keyboard shortcut work the same with the stock spotlight search. How about iPhoto? Hey these are amazing photos, too bad I can’t take pictures this well. Even if I could, they wouldn’t be of these people, so it’s apples and oranges again. What about iMovie. I don’t know. Am I going to stand here with this blue-shirt looking over my shoulder trying to figure out the fine detail editing tools in this version? No. Then what am I doing here? Good question.

So, if your consider yourself an “Apple Person” or a Mac (as the old commercials used to say), maybe the Apple Store isn’t for you at all. It’s for your Mom, who has never used an iPad or a MacBook Air. It’s for your friend who asked you what computer he should buy this time. It’s for the person walking by, who wanders in to see what this whole Mac thing is about. In other words, the mainstream customer.

You should probably just stick to reading your rumor sites at Starbucks. Well, maybe just one quick look at the new MacBooks before I go home.