I just had an evil thought. In every Apple store there’s several computers setup where you can get on the Internet, play around, basically do everything you want.
What if Apple were logging everything you do and studying that for marketing information? After all, they would be able to predict what Web 2.0 sites were getting popular before anyone else.
But, even if you don’t log what’s going on, just watching over the shoulders of people tells you a lot about what people do on their computers. I just took a quick tour of the store here and saw Friendster, 123 Greetings, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, some sort of Oracle email app, Google maps, and Yahoo messenger being used.
UPDATE: On second tour I saw two different people using Bebo. I never have used that before. Looks like a nice blogging/social networking tool. Lots of people are using Google and Yahoo to search for travel sites. I saw both Travelocity and Expedia up on screens. Three people here are using MySpace. One guy is surfing YouTube.
I bet if I stayed here all day I’d get a pretty good read on what people are actually using.
If I were planning a new Web product I’d send teams of people to Apple stores all over the world to do market research and just hang out in the stores and watch what people do on their computers.