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Photos: AT&T's New Chicago Playland

CHICAGO -- AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is opening up a new store-cum-mobile playground on Michigan Avenue here in the Windy City. It's the first -- and only planned -- brand store of its kind.

The carrier will open up shop on Saturday, but Light Reading Mobile got a sneak peak of the 10,000 square-foot Magnificent Mile storefront this week. Click on the image below to launch a slide show of the new digs.

All about the apps
As you'll see from the pictures, AT&T's store takes a few cues from longtime partner Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) -- no cash registers, Geniuses versus Brand Ambassadors, and lots of interactivity. But, AT&T isn't out just to sell devices. It's focusing keenly on the mobile software experience. Devices are used as a way to showcase the apps that can run on them.

That's why you won't see Long Term Evolution (LTE) branding anywhere like you might at a Verizon Wireless store. And, each station lists the apps and services you can use on the devices that are on display.

AT&T North Central Regional President Kent Mathy said that this flagship store won't push any particular technology nor will it do special promotions. So, if AT&T strikes another marketing deal, such as the the one it put together with Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) for the Lumia 900, the special promotions wouldn't apply here. Presumably, the same would be true for the next iPhone. (See Lumia Loses Luster Despite AT&T Marketing Push.)

"We're not playing up any technology or device," Mathy said. "It's just what the devices can do for you. Other stores may have a particular goal, but here it is to learn."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:22:31 PM
re: Photos: AT&T's New Chicago Playland

One thing that could be really helpful at the new store is that they do tech support on site, and you don't have to make an appointment like over at Apple. Helping people get set up and going on their phones, including with new apps and software, could make smartphones and tablets less intimidating for some people.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:22:27 PM
re: Photos: AT&T's New Chicago Playland

The store looks pretty cool inside, which I guess is the whole point. They're going to get a lot of curiosity foot traffic, if nothing else. (Which I guess is also the point.)

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:22:26 PM
re: Photos: AT&T's New Chicago Playland

Yeah, lots of tourists, for sure. I think it makes the technology more accessible. If the staff are good, it'd be fun to stop in and learn some new things you can do with your tablet or phone.

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