Banana Republic in-store tech

File this under "So scary it must be true". Banana Republic's flagship store in Manhattan opened the other day (yesterday, I think) and they offer two new services from the store concierge that make me excited and terrified, respectively.

The first service, which piqued my interest though I own a Windows CE-based Philips Nino, is downloadable maps of the store for the Palm organizers. I don't know how necessary that is for one store, but I distinctly recall being in a large mall in Westchester County a week ago and wishing for exactly that service. Especially since I didn't know my way around the mall and it was huge and I was in a hurry to find the store I wanted.

Maybe the Mall of America could give those to shoppers on their way in? I'm surprised more computer conventions don't offer the same thing so geeks can download Comdex and Internet World maps when they're at the shows.

The second idea at Banana Republic illustrates exactly what I find most repulsive about its customers, and by extension, the store itself. The service? Cell phone recharging. Now I understand I take the risk of alienating every reader of this page by saying that I hate cell phones, but I find the idea of placing your StarTac in a cradle while you shop (presumably so you can yap even more en route to the Starbucks around the corner when you leave) to be just plain icky.

But at least I have the consolation of knowing all the cell phone users will get brain cancer. Hey, that's not funny...

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