FORTUNE -- After Paris, the big Apple Store on the tree-lined Kurfürstendamm -- the wide boulevard that is Berlin's version of the Champs-Élysées -- was a bit of a shock.
The classical Greek revival facade, with its tall windows and inset Ionic columns, is even more imposing than its Parisian sister store's.
The shopping area inside, however, has none of the Opéra's old-world charm.
It's a huge space, with 43 tables (four times the typical mall store). But it has been stripped of every pre-war detail that graced it when the building opened in 1913 as the Film-Bühne Wien (Vienna Cinema), with an elegant ground-floor restaurant, a second-level lobby, and an 850-seat theater on the third level under a domed, 26-foot ceiling.
The damage was done long before Apple (AAPL) arrived. The cinema went dark in 2000 and the space was carved up every which way. According to ifoapplestore's Gary Allen, the building has been home, at various times, to a Salvador Dali museum, some Loewe Galerie electronics shops, an Aveda hairstyling salon, the Dresdner Bank, eight mini theaters, a few residential apartments and briefly, in 2007, a Microsoft pop-up store.
I got a tour of the whole building. My guide proudly showed off the limestone walls, hewed from a local quarry, the thick German oak tables (the Genius bar alone weighed 1.8 tons), the red-carpeted stairway and the third-floor theater which is regularly packed for whatever musical group happens to be passing through Berlin. (Recent appearances: Passenger, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Crosby, Stills and Nash.)
I learned in Paris that it's a mistake to compare the foot traffic at any Apple retail outlet with the always-mobbed New York Fifth Avenue store I know best. Also, shoppers tend to come in waves. At noon, customers were walking into the Kurfürstendamm store at the rate of 4.5 per minute (compared with 6.3 at Opéra). Two hours later the rate jumped to 9.5 per minute -- better even than the 8.6 per minute I counted at the Apple store under the Louvre.
Let's put it this way. In the 15 minutes that the Berlin Apple Store drew 68 visitors, only 3 shoppers entered the Timberland outlet next door. And nobody lined their children up for a photograph in front the shoe store, as this family from Belgium did in the attached photo.
I found the kids inside happily ensconced at the Kinder table. The other customers were spread out roughly as follows: 14 at the MacBook tables, 5 at iPhone tables, 4 at iPads, 2 at iMacs and 0 at iPods. The Genius bar and accessories room were both busy.
Still to go on my five-city tour: London, Amsterdam and Barcelona. But first, since I'm within rail distance, side trips to Prague, Kraków and Auschwitz.
First stop on a five-city tour is a 134-year-old edifice across the street from the Paris Opera.
FORTUNE -- Here's the irony in the retail store Apple (AAPL) opened with such fanfare four years ago just north of the Place de l'Opéra -- one of the grandest squares in a city that has way more than its share:
Despite the millions spent renovating the 134-year-old marble and limestone edifice, the hours spent scrubbing away MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 7, 2014 3:16 PM ET
Apple plants its flag in Brazil in advance of the FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
FORTUNE -- Apple's (AAPL) iPhone may be approaching saturation in North America, but Latin America is wide open territory.
Brazil is particularly interesting. It's the largest country on the continent (pop. 200 million) and it's demonstrated an appetite for iPhones despite prices that are the highest in the world. Due to stiff import duties, an unlocked iPhone 5s MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 15, 2014 7:38 PM ET
"It's like a refuge camp!" wrote Jason Ng, who tweeted this photo from Hong Kong.
FORTUNE -- No, these aren't customers lining up for the launch of the iPhone at China Mobile (CHL). That event is scheduled for Jan. 17, a week from now.
These are shoppers at Apple's (AAPL) Hong Kong store drawn by the discounts the company is offering for its second-annual Asian Red Friday sale.
This year, eligible countries include China, Hong Kong, MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 10, 2014 10:02 AM ET
By 7 a.m. Friday the line snaked down 58th St, up Madison Ave, and across 59th Street.
FORTUNE -- Dawn had broken by the time I made it to Apple's (AAPL) flagship Fifth Avenue store Friday morning. The barricades were already in place, and the crowd of would-be customers had filled Apple Plaza and circled the block.
I started a head count at 7:00 a.m. and 10 minutes later reached 1,068 at MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Sep 20, 2013 7:35 AM ET
If you want a free repair at a Beijing Apple Store, be prepared to pay.
FORTUNE -- When Wang Bin's iPhone 4S developed a glitch, he went online to book a slot at the nearest Apple Store Genius Bar.
Mr. Wang, a correspondent for the Beijing Morning News, soon discovered that every appointment at all three Beijing Apple Stores had been booked four weeks in advance.
They'd been snapped up by scalpers MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jul 30, 2013 7:12 AM ET
It was Apple's 11th retail outlet in Germany, but it still managed to draw a crowd.
FORTUNE -- After openings in Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg Alster, Hamburg Jungfernstieg, Dresden, Cologne, Oberhausen, Augsburg, Sindelfingen and Sulzbach, Apple (AAPL) finally built its first store in Berlin, and the faithful turned up in droves. The store -- the country's largest, with a full-sized auditorium on the second floor -- opened Friday at 5 p.m.
By 8:50, MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 3, 2013 3:55 PM ET
Meet the Apple Store employees who tweet anonymously about their silly clients
FORTUNE -- Ever wanted to know what those preternaturally cheerful workers in colored T-shirts really think about working retail for Apple (AAPL)?
9to5Mac's Mark Gurman opened a window on their secret thoughts this week with a feature story about "Apple Anonymous" -- an underground society of Apple Store employees who tweet anonymously about life on the floor and behind the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 23, 2013 6:23 AM ET
Millions of people are familiar with Samsung-made smartphones or TVs. But their knowledge of the Korean electronics giant often stops there, according to a new survey from market research firm Harris Interactive.
FORTUNE -- Even if you use a Galaxy phone, how much do you really know about the company that made it? Can you name Samsung's chief executive officer? Or, for that matter, any of the conglomerate's top leaders? Do you MOREMichal Lev-Ram, writer - Feb 12, 2013 12:11 PM ET
In Los Angeles' Century City mall
FORTUNE -- In his second entry in our continuing series of contrasting store photos, reader Howard Kaplan paid another visit Monday afternoon to the Westfield Century City mall, half-way between Beverly Hills and Westwood, California.
The photo at right and the first one below were taken at the Apple (AAPL) store at about 3 p.m.
The next two were shot at the mall's Microsoft (MSFT) and Sony MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 24, 2012 8:59 PM ET
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