March 2010

The only Apple store in Delaware will move from its tiny 30-foot space later this year and into a 60-foot space at the Christiana Mall, which is undergoing a significant expansion and renovation. The Apple store opened near the center of the mall in October 2004, stuffed into less than 2,000 square-feet. The mall is the state’s largest and draws visitors from a wide region along Interstate 95 seeking tax-free shopping. But the mall was show its age back in 2008, so General Growth Properties Inc. set plans to expand the retail space by 50 percent, install a new food court and cityscape, and upgrade other facilities to attract new retailers. Several new stores have already opened in expansion areas. A new Nordstrom will arrive in 2011, joining a new Target store, The Cheescake Factory and an Anthropology store. The new Apple store location will more than double the space for the store and should open by this fall.

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The iPad design was finished months ago, the introduction was given in January and now the essential burden of bringing the device to customers is in the hands of Apple’s retail team. Several sources have confirmed that none of the 14,000 or so U.S. store employees have yet touched an iPad. In fact, their first exposure will occur at 7 a.m. on Saturday, when all-hands training sessions begin at the U.S. stores. The company’s trainers have devised a multi-station approach to make sure that everyone learns all the features of the iPad, and gets time to try out the included and optional software applications. The training sessions will include procedures for setting up two waiting lines, selling to walk-in and reserved iPad buyers, and the two-per-person purchase limit. There will also be an emphasis on creating a superior buying experience, and educating customers about how the iPad will enrich their lives. At each store, all staffers will work until at least 10 a.m. to handle the crush of buyers. At that point most part-time employees will go off-duty, and will then return at their regularly-scheduled time later in the day. There could be another rush of buyers after 3 p.m., when reserved iPads that are unclaimed become available for purchase by walk-in buyers. Various sources have suggested that Apple has shipped two quantities of iPads to each store: enough to fulfill all the reserved purchases made on-line, and a standard number to fulfill walk-in orders, based on the store’s sales history. It’s been suggested that even Apple’s stores may have a limited number of iPads for walk-in sales on the first day, perhaps as few as 100 at smaller stores. Each Best Buy store will reportedly stock just five of each iPad memory configuration on the first day. iPad TV fun

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A serious water leak traced to air-conditioning equipment on the roof of The Gardens Mall (Fla.) forced the closure of several stores on Monday, including the ground-floor Apple store. As first reported by MacObserver, mall officials told the Palm Beach Post that an A/C component failed about 3 p.m., sending a flood of water down through the stores below. The mall’s maintenance staff was able to turn a valve after about 10 minutes to stop the flow, but the damage was extensive to the stock of several stores. The Apple store was closed on Tuesday morning, but staffers assured passersby that it would definitely be open in time for Saturday’s iPad debut.

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If terrorists on the Fox TV show “24” have their way, the Upper West Side (NYC) Apple store will be swept up in a dirty bomb attack, part of 40 square-blocks of the Big Apple contaminated by nuclear material for 100 years. Thankfully, Jack Bauer is racing to save the city. During Monday’s episode, Samir and his cohorts finish the bomb and stuff it into a van for Tarin to drive to the target. But police roadblocks limit where Tarin can drive, so he heads up towards Lincoln Center. According to a computer map of his route, he stops at 77th Street and Amsterdam, about 11 blocks north of the Apple store, which is at 66th and Broadway. As the episode ends, Samir telephones Tarin and gives him the order to start the detonation countdown. Tarin presses a button, the 15-minute countdown begins and…will the Apple store survive? check the map

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Retail preparations have begun for the debut of the iPad this Saturday, as Apple and Best Buy work to balance a limited supply of devices against the expected long lines of eager buyers. Like nearly every previous Apple software and hardware introduction, overnight waiting lines are expected at the stores on April 3rd, composed of first-day tech buyers and Apple “gotta be there” loyalists. The iPad will debut only at Apple’s U.S. stores and at Best Buy stores that have an Apple store-within-a-store or an ASC. The limitation originates from two factors: Apple’s decision to have only informed, trained staffers sell the iPad, and the limited supply of iPads. For Apple’s part, they ended iPad purchase reservations yesterday, apparently receiving enough pre-orders to sell out the initial production of iPads. more iPad news

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In line with Apple’s promise to beef up its international store locations during 2010, the company will locate a third store in Italy, somewhere in the northwestern city of Torino. A former host for the Winter Olympics, the city of 865,000 residents anchors the Piedmont district and is surrounded by the Alps. As first reported by SetteB.IT, the store would be about 110 miles from the existing store in Milano, and over 400 miles from the store in Rome. The exact location of the store isn’t known (Shopville Le Gru?), but it could open by October 2010.

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As Apple opens more retail stores around the world, the company is also gaining market share and making its stock potentially more valuable, according to Morgan Stanley investment advisors. Katy Huberty and Mathew Schneider issued the information to their clients last week, accompanied by charts and graphs that show how more stores in new regions positively affect Apple’s overall marketshare. They concluded that, “China represents Apple’s next major geographic growth opportunity,” fed by a “growing, addressable market” of 50 million buyers. The trend in China will follow the pattern of other regions, in particular Western Europe that has shown a substantial market share increase since the first store opened in Rome (Italy) in March 2007. In that region, 33 new stores translated to a 2.8 percentage point increase in Mac unit sales, the report states. Several graphs in the report show how the U.S. and W. European market share are closely linked, but also show that Japan’s market share has moved up and down over the past five years. At last month’s annual stockholders’ meeting in California, Sr. V-P Retail Ron Johnson told the audience the company would open 25 stores in China over the next two years. check the charts

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His father ran a pencil factory in the late 1950s, which probably explains why prize-winning architect Peter Bohlin is so adept at using them now to sketch out the designs for Apple stores around the world. A story in the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper profiled Bohlin, revealing that he’s a “computer illiterate,” and prefers face-to-face meetings to gain insights on clients’ needs and present his designs. This June Bohlin will receive a gold medal from the American Institute of Architects, the group’s highest annual award, honoring his 45 years of superlative architecture ranging from residential to commercial. The firm Bohlin founded, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, now has five offices in the U.S., with Apple store work handled by the branch in San Francisco.

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After 39 quiet days, Apple has scheduled another retail store grand opening, adding a 27th store to the UK in an expansion area of the SouthGate | Bath shopping center. The store will be the fourth in the southwestern region of the country. The city center shopping center is  undergoing a complete, three-phase makeover that will provide more retail space for the city of about 84,000. Historically, the first months of each year have few grand openings, as most debuts are scheduled for the summer to Thanksgiving time period. The previous store opened February 16 at Eldon Square South (UK).

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It’s officially spring, as Apple has opened up reservations for its annual Field Trip program to bring K-12 students into the stores to learn new skills, showcase their existing work and just have fun. The program pops up each spring and fall, and runs weekdays this year until May 1st. The trips last up to 90 minutes for up to 25 students. Registration is performed by a “School Champion,” and includes contact information and a preference of date. Apple also has an annual Apple Camp program for students, whose registration begins in May, and an on-going Youth Workshops program.

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Steve Jobs has allegedly told a Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) government official exactly why no retail store is planned for the country—”super crazy” import taxes, he wrote in an e-mail. Jobs’ remark highlights an on-going trade dispute between the U.S. and Brazil over cotton trade, and how international affairs can affect the selection of store sites. As reported by MacMagazine Brazil, a story in Gente Boa newsletter recounts that the city’s Secretary of Heritage contacted Jobs to explore building an official store in the city. Washington Fajardo suggested Apple might open a store in the city’s port region or perhaps in the historic city center. But according to the account, Jobs sent an e-mail back to Fajardo explaining that the country’s policy of super-high taxation, “makes is very unattractive to invest in the country.” Jobs went on to tell Fajardo that, “Many (other) high-tech companies feel that way.” So far, Apple has no stores in Mexico, Central or South America, although there have been rumors about future stores in Mexico and Brazil. The United States and Brazil are even now in the midst of a trade dispute over U.S. cotton subsidies, with Brazil threatening to retaliate by increasing tariffs on 100 categories of U.S. imports. read more…

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Anticipation for the breakthrough iPad racheted up even more as Apple today began taking on-line pre-orders for the device, including reservations to pick up an iPad at any of the company’s United States stores on April 3rd. As part of ensuring that everyone arriving at the store on debut day will have a superior experience, retail store shoppers on April 3rd can also reserve other Apple products for in-store purchase. Apple has also established a six-hour window for picking up reserved iPads, apparently hoping to allow the stores to revert to normal operations later in the day. Committed iPad buyers can use the standard on-line store, with shipment on debut day. But for those who want to reserve now and pick up their iPad at a local retail store on April 3rd, there is a special Web page that walks the buyer through the four necessary steps. read more…

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Actor Richard Belzer (Law & Order) was one of several invited celebrities who appeared at the grand opening of the Upper West Side (NYC) store last November and who received free Apple products. Now Belzer may be less welcome at the store after an employee claims he physically assaulted her while yelling, “I need help!” As reported by the New York Post newspaper, Belzer was allegedly seen pacing in front of the store, and then came inside to approach staffer Milan Agnew. Belzer allegedly grabbed the 5-foot-2 employee by the shoulders and neck, shook her and demanded attention. Agnew later called the police to make a report of the incident. According to the newspaper, Belzer explained to police that he was only joking. He has not been arrested or charged with any crime. Update: Belzer denies that any assault took place in a follow-up NY Post story, and that Agnew should “seek help” for a delusion problem.

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Once again, Apple’s retail stores will be the focus for the company’s latest technology gadget, the iPad (Wi-Fi) when it goes on sale for the first time April 3rd only at the stores. In a statement, Apple said customers can place on-line pre-orders starting March 12th for pick-up at the stores on debut Saturday. Apple used the pre-order sales technique previously, when the iPhone 3G-S first went on sale last summer. At that event, the waiting lines were divided into two lanes when the stores opened for the two types of iPhone buyers. In general, there seemed to be few attendees who showed up early for a pre-ordered purchase. Just last week, Apple COO Tim Cook told a technology conference that the iPad debut will be limited to the United States, “where we have sales people that can answer questions, and we feel good about the answers they’ll give.” Apple’s statement today said several other countries will begin selling both models of the iPad “in late April.” Not coincidentally, those countries coincide with the presence of Apple’s retail stores—Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK—with the exception of China. Apple added that the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G can also be pre-ordered starting March 12th, but won’t be available until late April. read more…

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An additional hint about Apple’s future retail plans was revealed in their recent application for the two-word trademark “Joint Venture.” The business-oriented word pair seems to indicate the company will use the trademark as part of a new service, possibly fee-based, intended to bring more business customers into the store. Tipsters have said Apple intends to provide more attention to business customers during 2010, and the company has recently reorganized job positions to kick off that project. As first reported by the Patently Apple web site, Apple’s application to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) described the nature of the trademark in standard, elemental terms. “Retail store services featuring computers, computer software, computer peripherals, and consumer electronic devices, and demonstration of products relating thereto,” the application stated. The same wording has been used to describe past trademarks, including the phrase “Genius Bar.” read more…

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