Peek Into Store’s Wi-Fi Network Finds 335 Devices

December 23, 2011

A network engineer who peeked into the Wi-Fi networks of Honolulu (Hi.) Apple stores found over 300 connected devices at one store, including customer iPhones and iPads, window displays and the iPod touch point-of-sale devices. Apple uses an open Wi-Fi network at each store to connect its display products, and also allows visitors and passersby to use the network. Tech writer Todd Ogasawara posted that he visited two Apple stores recently and used a network profiling app on his iPad to view the stores’ open Wi-Fi network. At the first unidentified “mid-sized” store Ogasawara found 208 devices using Apple’s Wi-Fi network. At a second “anchor” store in Honolulu, he found 335 connected devices. Ogasawara said the profile showed that Apple uses commercial-grade Cisco Wi-Fi access points at the stores. A typical mall-size Apple store can have 135 products on display, all connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi. A variety of other devices also connect to the store’s Wi-Fi: window displays using Mac minis, point-of-sale iPod touch devices, Concierge and Genius Bar iPads, and back-of-house computers. Lastly, a network profile also shows visitor devices using Apple’s Wi-Fi, either during normal use or while they’re being repaired, and even devices outside the store linked to the network. Download (pdf) a list compiled by IFO of an actual store’s Wi-Fi network devices for more details on device names and network configuration.

Share this news!
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
E-mail this story E-mail this story

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Aaron December 23, 2011 at 0438

It would be impossible for the back of house computers and the EasyPay iPod touches to be on the ‘free’ network because those devices all need VPN access to access internal Apple websites. The front of house network which is open definitely doesn’t have Apple VPN access.

Reply

Joe Apple December 23, 2011 at 0453

Product displays on walls and window displays use ethernet. Everything else uses wifi.

Reply

Actual Employee December 23, 2011 at 1308

Nope. Everything is on wireless internet. the cables that are plugged into the ethernet ports are actually part of the security system.

Reply

Joe Apple December 23, 2011 at 1928

Unless things have changed drastically and very recently, you’re incorrect. There are 6 pole alarm boxes with telephone-jack style RJ11 connectors on the alarm box end and a variety of connectors on the other end for security under every fixture, both wall and table. The wall fixtures all have working FOH network ethernet ports, as do all of the windows. The ethernet ports are either in the floor or ceiling in the windows depending on the store.

We started a wireless BOH network at our store years ago and were promptly smacked down by IS&T for doing so. All BOH network connections are wired only. All the stuff the concierges and salespeople do on their handheld devices is through the FOH network.

Reply

Visual Lead December 27, 2011 at 1144

My stores window displays have been on wifi for years. I think it varies per store but each of our windows are connected to the regular wifi. The EasyPay devices and Back of House computers are however connected to a hidden and password protected wifi network.

Reply

Joe Apple December 28, 2011 at 0638

Interesting. Does your window have ethernet ports in the floor or ceiling?

Actual Employee December 23, 2011 at 1307

Back of House computers are NOT on wifi. They are on an exclusive ethernet system. In fact, attaching a wifi device to that network is cause for immediate and no appeal termination.

There are also hidden wifi networks with special VPN profiles for the Easy Pay etc devices. They do NOT use the same open network as the display computers and devices.

Reply

Gary December 23, 2011 at 1318

Thanks everyone for the additional info on the stores’ network. I’ve received other feedback that most Apple stores have four networks: Apple, Apple Demo, the Apple TV network, and Argon. The latter, Argon, is the back-of-house network which is used by the EasyPay point-of-sale devices.

Reply

MacFan457 December 23, 2011 at 1353

I have sometimes experienced heart palpitations while inside an Apple store (more often than not). Reading this article gave me the idea that I may be sensitive to places flooded with Wi-Fi. It’s just an idea though, because I feel my palpitations are actually due to anxiety rather than Wi-Fi.

But, like I said, they more often than not happen inside the Apple Store. I worked in another electronics retail store a few years ago in the computer department, and I regularly had heart palpitations there as well

I have not researched all the different wireless technologies and their output power, but I would have to guess that being inside a store with that many Wi-Fi devices cannot be good for you (especially for long periods of time).

I am not saying at all that my heart palpitations are due to Wi-Fi at all, but I’m just putting the idea out there as a possibility. My symptom is probably due to many factors, but Wi-Fi may be one of them.

Reply

actual employee 2 December 23, 2011 at 1538

like the actual employee says, we (the employess) are on a private network for easy pays and to connect to cash drawers , receipt printers , etc…. those are not accesible to public.

also, let’s not forget that every devices up for startup (or personnal set-up) needs to go on the apple store public network, so imagine the peak on high traffic days.

Reply

MrCranky December 23, 2011 at 1606

The Apple internal apps for repairs and appointments do not require connecting to the secured wireless network. At any given time there might be 10-20 in use at a 30 ft. store.

Reply

Some Guy December 23, 2011 at 1849

Apple’s VPN doesn’t care what network you’re coming from, only whether you’ve got valid access credentials. I use it from home, I’ve used it from hotels and airports while traveling for Apple, and I’ve used it from Apple stores.

Reply

Ken Berger December 23, 2011 at 2249

300+ wifi clients would bring down most Wifi networks to useable speeds. Wifi was not designed to support that many users off a single access point. With 802.11b the limit is closer to 30 max and with 5Ghz 802.11n it is less than 100! Multiple access points / radios help but you still reach a limit quickly of the number of channels and they all start to interfere and cause collisions.
Who ever complied this info does not full understand how Wifi works.

Reply

Joe Apple December 25, 2011 at 0629

Right, Ken. The Apple engineers don’t understand wifi. Do you actually believe that for a half a second/ What an asinine comment.

That list is the assigned IP address list, and there’s a tiny fraction connected at any given time. The are addresses are not all wireless as I stated in a post earlier. As of 2 years ago, there were 2 discreet FoH wireless networks in a typical 30′ store, and the traffic was handled very easily. In the early days, 2004/2005, the network could be brought to a crawl by downloaded one of the huge system updated required for demo machine updates, but they stopped that shortly after and started sending out HDs for every update.

Reply

David December 25, 2011 at 0952

The easypays are definitely connected to a different network that is not accessible by the public. Sometimes easypays will have difficulty connecting to the private network and will latch on to the front of house private network. However if it does, transactions cannot b completed and no customer data can be transferred.

Reply

{ 10 trackbacks }

Leave a Comment