21 August 2019
Lick, a French chain store, wants customers to experience the ultimate in interactivity. Photo: Lick
Lick, a French chain store, wants customers to experience the ultimate in interactivity. Photo: Lick

How Jobs is being rediscovered by this French retailer

Nearly three years after his death, Steve Jobs is being rediscovered.

For instance, people are unearthing his inspirational 2005 Stanford commencement address hidden inside every Mac computer.

In France, a famous Jobs quote is inspiring a brick-and-mortar store to encourage customers to experience its products — touch them, feel them, test them — and see how they work with their smartphones.

Lick, a startup chain store in Paris, took its name from an epigram used by Jobs to hype up the iPhone: “We made the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them.”

Owner Stephane Bohbot describes Lick as a geeks’ paradise and a throwback to the days of tech discovery.

“We have stuff you never even knew existed,” he told the Financial Times.

The entrepreneur from Lyons is on to what he calls the next big thing in retail – objects that talk to your smartphone to make your life easier, provide you with information you did not have before, or both.

Bohbot’s vision is based on two trends.

First, more and more objects are connected to the internet. 

Cisco, the California computer and network-technology company, estimates that 80 objects (mobile devices, parking meters, thermostats, cardiac monitors, tyres, roads, cars, supermarket shelves, even cattle) are being connected to the internet every second.

It estimates that 50 billion objects will be connected to the internet by 2020, up from 8.7 billion in 2012.

In another study, Morgan Stanley says the number will be closer to 75 billion.

Second, smartphones are getting smarter and more widespread.

Bohbot calls them remotes to control your life. They’re becoming cheaper and therefore more accessible to more people.

Wiko, a smartphone maker in Marseille, produces France’s second most popular SIM-free smartphones after Samsung that sell for as little as 55 euros (US$72.40), a fraction of the cost of handsets produced by its bigger rivals.

Lick sells other intelligent products such as the popular fitness bands from brands including Jawbone and Sony.

But there are also lightbulbs that transform a ceiling fixture or table lamp into a smartphone-controlled jukebox, devices that feed your phone with data about your golf swing and storage trays that alert your phone when you need more eggs.

Naturally, this kind of startup needs a Jobs kind of pitch to build customer awareness.

So Bohbot likes to make a spectacle of himself every now and then. He’d pick up a slick white guitar, slip his iPhone into a cavity in its body and take one giant rock star-inspired leap into the air.

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