The Apple Computer store in SoHo in Manhattan and the Gateway Country store in Mission Valley, Calif., exhibit diverging takes on personal technology.

While Apple exudes a sleek space-age vibe targeted toward upscale shoppers, Gateway plays to its more down-market customers with a retro residential environment that displays products as they would be used in the home. Ronette Riley Architect designed the Apple store; AIRVision Inc. designed the Gateway store.

With the introduction of its new Ipod minis, Apple has never been more popular among hip technophiles. Gateway, however, shocked industry observers last month when it announced plans to close all 188 of its Gateway Country stores due to the chain's eroded brand equity and financial troubles.

The Mission Valley Gateway store, which was to serve as a prototype for the now-defunct chain, won an honorable mention in our 2004 SADI Awards (see page 129 for all the winners). Perhaps if AIRVision's design was rolled sooner, the company might have fared better.