One day after Apple reportedly dropped its political opposition to a mandated “kill switch” for smartphones, the company has posted a detailed Web page explaining to law enforcement what investigative information it can provide, and the procedures required for obtaining it. The page reveals exactly what data is available from retail store purchase transactions, and confirms that store surveillance video is generally available only for 30 days. It also covers emergency disclosures of customer information, records preservation requests and extracting data from passcode-locked iPhones. The page also provides some privacy assurances to iPhone users that Apple can’t decrypt iMessage or FactTime communications, nor does it store user GPS location data. On the other hand, Apple can intercept and provide users’ email under a court wiretap order. Apple and other smartphone makers have been opposing a campaign launched by San Francisco district attorney George Gascon to mandate software that renders stolen handsets useless. Gascon’s intent is to end the market for stolen smartphones, and thereby discourage criminals from stealing them. The campaign stems from statistics that show 67 percent of street robberies in San Francisco and other cities involve a smartphone. Smartphone and cellular carriers generally want to apply their own solution, without legislative intervention. For example, Apple’s iOS 7 update in June 2013 added features that increased security, including a reset-proof lockout. However, Gascon believes smartphone makers are moving too slowly and that they receive a monetary benefit when smartphones are stolen. read more…

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A group of Franklin Elementary School (S. Calif.) second graders visited the Third Street Promenade Apple retail store Wednesday to participate in the company’s school Field Trip program.

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Are you interested in metal and stone, and helping Apple obtain supplies of those building materials for its worldwide retail stores? The company has posted two new corporate job listings for Direct Sourcing Managers for those two materials, along with a Senior Direct Sourcing Manager to oversee the operation. The company’s stores are primarily constructed of stone, metal and glass, and from the beginning of the retail chain in 2001 there has been nearly a single supplier for each material. But now it appears Apple is reaching out to identify additional stone suppliers and investigating new metal cladding projects. In addition, both positions will be expected to, “Drive pricing negotiations through supply base with support of Sr. Commodity Manager.” Since the beginning there have been few suppliers who could meet Apple’s rigid specifications for building materials. In particular, the glass for windows, stairways and other complex structures used at Apple’s stores are available from just two sources. Apple’s stainless steel provider has always been Kikukawa Kogyo Co. (Japan), while glass has come from Seele GmbH (Germany) and North Glass Safety Glass Ltd. (China). With the exception of a few stores, most stone for walls and floors has come only from the Il Casone (Italy) quarry. The job descriptions don’t provide enough detail to determine if Apple’s new store architects, Foster + Partners, made the new positions necessary, or if it’s simply a necessity from having 424 worldwide stores. Download (pdf) the three job listings for more details.

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Rumors and speculation have been wafting through Atlanta for the last six months about a future Apple store, and now it can be confirmed—the suburban Cumberland Mall northwest of the city has won the bidding. Apple will move into a 6,657 square-foot space on the lower level to display its products, and also occupy an adjacent 2,062 square-foot back-of-house space. It will be the fifth store in the region, filling in coverage for the affluent area north and west of downtown Atlanta. The Cumberland Mall is managed by General Growth Properties and is strategically located at the intersection of I-75 and I-285. It will be just a half-mile from the Atlanta Braves’ new baseball stadium when it opens in 2017. Based on construction schedules, the store could open by year’s end.

mall plan

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The basic outlines of the future Apple retail store in Nanjing (China) are now obvious , showing a tall, boxy structure, on a conspicuous corner facing a wide plaza. The future store is part of the adjacent IST Mall in city center, but appears to be within its own building. The store was first tipped last January and is part of the company’s continued expansion in China to accommodate increased interest in Apple’s products. Photos of the site show a seven-story structure covered in black plastic, and topped with a two-faced electronic billboard. A Gap store, future Ritz Carlton Hotel and Rolls Royce dealership are nearby. It’s not clear how many levels the store will eventually occupy—several other China Apple stores are very tall, but have just one or two levels of public retail space. Based on construction schedules, the store could open in early 2015. photos

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Continuing its tradition of creating magnificent stores from historic buildings, Apple has begun work to transform a former bank building on New York City’s Upper East Side into a retail store. Various sources confirm that construction planning is underway for 940 Madison Avenue, a limestone and marble building now occupied by luxury retailer VBH. The building dates to 1921 and still bears the chiseled name of its original occupant, the United States Mortgage and Trust Company. It was designed by architect Henry O. Chapman and cost about $600,000. Over the years other banks became tenants, then an art gallery, another bank, and in 2002 the current retailer VBH. The building interior was renovated along the way, but now retains most of its original features. Besides the prominent location and 95-foot wide storefront, the building offers Apple ample space: 4,000 square-foot on the ground level, a 1,000 square-foot mezzanine and a 4,000 square-foot basement (with vault!). The store would fill in store coverage north of the Fifth Avenue store, and would be the sixth store in Manhattan. Based on construction schedules, the store could open in late 2015. Update: Nine days after this story was published, Apple’s architectural firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson received permits from the city of New York for the interior demolition ($60,000) of the building, and for probing the building’s foundation ($20,000). photos

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Apple has granted its newest retail store executive shares of the company’s stock that are potentially worth more than $68 million, but for the first time, about 15 percent of the grant is dependent upon the company’s performance. Unlike stock grants given to the two previous retail executives, the grants are much smaller and will be parceled out in strange increments over the next four years, starting at the end of this month. Sr. VP Retail/On-Line Stores Angela Ahrendts officially joined the company last Monday, and was immediately granted so-called restricted stock units (RSU) that are exchangeable for common stock at some future time. The total 113,334 shares is a number seemingly unlinked to the current price of Apple’s stock or any other financial figure. The shares vest over time in percentages that include 21, 26, 32 and 33—again, all seemingly random (see table below). Although a direct comparison to previous retail chief grants is difficult, Ahrendts could potentially make much more than the first Sr. VP Ron Johnson, if she works for the same 10-year period Johnson did. Based on documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Johnson received over $150 million from the sale of stock he earned through grants. His successor, John Browett, worked barely one year, and earned $3 million in stock at most. Both executives’ stock grants were not doled out in increments and were not linked to the company’s performance. Both previous retail executives received a moderate salary: Johnson left at $700,014 a year, and presumably Browett received the same pay. details

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On the heels of Apple executives reporting the company sold 43 million iPhones during the last quarter, a Colorado entrepreneur is using homeless people and Apple’s stores to supply his iPhone reselling operation. A KUSA-TV report says the scheme was uncovered at the Cherry Creek (Denver) Apple store, and leaves the homeless and other down-and-outers holding monthly cellular contracts they can’t afford to pay. According to the report, the resellers drive the streets looking for people who might need quick cash, offer them a deal, and then drive them to an Apple store. Inside, the resellers provide cash for the recruits to purchase one or more iPhones tied to a cellular carrier. The recruits are told they can easily cancel the monthly cellular contracts, leaving them with no liability. In exchange for their help purchasing the iPhones, the recruits receive $100 or more. Only later do the recruits discover that they are on the hook for the monthly charges or contract cancellation charges. KUSA reporter Jeremy Jojola identified the resellers as two men from Beverly Hills (Calif.) operating a company that offers unlocked iPhones, and said they seemed to be working with one particular Cherry Creek store employee. However, Jojola didn’t speculate on whether that employee was part of the resellers’ scheme. Jojola did say the number of people he saw at the Cherry Creek store indicated to him that employees must have been aware of the resellers’ activities. Denver police have classified the situation as a civil matter and have declined to investigate the scheme Jojola uncovered. video

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After enduring almost 18 months without a top executive, Apple’s retail store employees will finally have a boss next week when Angela Ahrendts arrives in Cupertino as Sr. VP Retail & On-Line Stores. That announcement today by CEO Tim Cook during a conference call headlined the stores’ financial results, primarily because nearly all of the retail store numbers were pushed off the schedule by extraordinary dividend and stock-split news. Ahrendts was hired last October but deferred her arrival at Apple because her current employer, Burberry, was at a critical point in its history. The company did announce retail revenues totaled $5.23 billion for Q2 2014, nearly equal to the same period of 2013 and fifth highest in history. But during his first financial conference call, CFO Luca Maestri omitted figures for retail profit, average revenue per store and all the other usual benchmarks. Instead, Cook made the only mention of retail stores during the call, saying the company intends to triple the number of stores in greater China over the next two years in response to very strong results in the region for the latest quarter. Ironically, in February 2010 then-Sr. VP retail Ron Johnson set a similar expansion goal, when he pledged to have 25 China stores within two years. However, actual expansion has been much slower—there are just 13 greater China stores now. Overall, Apple posted revenues of $45.6 billion, a record for the March quarter, and profits of $10.2 billion. The missing retail financial figures are routinely posted in filings made with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) one or two days after the results are announced. updated details

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Apple is turning its world-wide retail store logos green—at least partially—to observe April 22nd as Earth Day, one day before the company is expected to announce that over 120 of its U.S. stores are now using only renewable energy, and on the same day the company announced retail stores will now recycle all Apple products. The initiatives are part of the company’s overall environmental strategy intended to reduce greenhouse gases and leave a smaller carbon footprint on the earth. The first green retail store logos were spotted in China, but tinted logo leaves soon began to appear as stores closed for the day in countries further west. In addition to the logo change, Apple retail store employees will wear green shirts and ID cards to observe the day. On a new Web page posted today, Apple’s VP of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson announced the recycling change at the stores, adding, “We believe we must be accountable for every Apple product at every stage of its use.” In an earlier interview with Wired, Jackson explained that the company’s corporate offices and data centers are using 94 percent renewable energy, and the retail stores are the next energy target. Details of that initiative are expected to be released within days. read more

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The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld the issuance of a restraining order requested by Apple against a retail store employee who was fired for poor job performance, saying the lower court correctly determined the woman had a history of mental illness, and that she posed an immediate threat of violence to Apple store employees. However, the court said the terms of the restraining order were overly broad, and ordered the lower court to redefine the conditions to meet state law. The decision runs parallel to a lawsuit that Catherine Danforth has filed against Apple for violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), alleging Apple failed to provide accommodation for her disability, and retaliated against her by obtaining a restraining order against her. According to court documents, Danforth was hired at the Lenox Square (Geo.) store on August 12, 2011, “and began experiencing symptoms of her disability at work.” According to her lawsuit, that disability, “substantially limits several major life activities, including working, concentrating, thinking, and communicating, among others.” On July 10, 2012 store supervisors put her on “Documented Coaching” to improve her performance. But Danforth was fired on August 13, 2012 for “her failure to successfully meet the objectives and expectations of her position,” Apple wrote in a court filing. details

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In the latest iteration of Apple’s employment Web page, the company has re-organized the retail store listings and revised individual position job descriptions. The main text of the page has also been revised, along with different photos and more white space, à la the iOS 7 redesign. The changes improve the organization and display of the job listings, but don’t seem to make any substantive changes to the job descriptions, duties or responsibilities. Apple did add one new position to the listings, and another listing has disappeared. The job listings remain in a two-column, hierarchical arrangement. However, the main column on the left is now arranged by job category instead of by individual job position. The new headings are leadership, sales, support and inventory. When you click on one of those categories, the specific job listings appear in the right column. The main page headline has been changed to the more simple phrase, “Work where extraordinary happens,” and there is a rotating set of four store hero photos at the top. The main page also now displays just two text blocks instead of four, giving a brighter appearance. details

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A black construction barricade is usually quickly spotted by Apple retail store enthusiasts as an indication of a future location, but one store has evaded confirmation until just recently. Now insiders confirm that construction work for an Apple store has been underway for several months at The Promenade at Evergreen Walk (Conn.) shopping mall and will open soon. The mall is near I-84 northeast of Hartford (Conn.), and is designed as a New England village, with several separate buildings covering 375,000 square-feet. It has a relatively-few 60 retailers, including the state’s second-only L.L. Bean store. The new Apple store will fill in coverage between the existing Farmington (Conn.) and the Holyoke (Mass.) stores, about 43 miles apart. It will be the fifth store to open in the state. Insiders say the store will open this June.

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There was continuous waiting line for six hours after the Zorlu Center (Istanbul) held its grand opening on Saturday, but visitors were happy to wait up to an hour to finally inspect the store’s long-mysterious design and get their hands on Apple’s products. The Foster + Partners design includes the most glass of any store in the chain, and relies heavily on the rectangular proportion of the glass panes for its design elements in the ceiling, floor and even shelving design. The overnight waiting line started at 9 p.m. Friday when Mustafa and Mert formed up with bicycle fencing placed at the mall’s boundary by security guards. By 2 a.m. the line had grown to just six people, and by 6 a.m. there were 18 in line. After the line was inside and onto the mall plaza at 7 a.m., adjacent to the four-sided glass “lantern” used to transfer light into the under-plaza store. By the time the store opened at 10 a.m., a line of 450 people snaked around the plaza’s garden and out towards the mall’s entrance. read more/photos

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The architecture and full glory of the new Zorlu Center (Istanbul, Turkey) Apple retail store has been revealed, and it includes a huge white roof with the iconic Apple logo, visible from the heights of the surrounding apartment buildings. The compact, two-level store itself is entirely under the plaza, but is topped by a first-ever rectangular “lantern” composed of four single panes of glass and a white roof. Portions of the store are visible through the windows from the plaza level. The store’s two glass staircases are also visible through huge glass panes over the top of each stair run on the sides of the store. One staircase leads downward from the lower public space to the back-of-house spaces. The plaza level lantern (an architectural term) is surrounded by a water fountain constructed of black stone. The water is pumped over the edge of the fountain in an “infinity” effect. View photos of the amazing two-level store interior, and the official grand opening announcement. The store is the first in eastern Europe and in Turkey, and opens this Saturday at 10 a.m. [Click on the photo for a larger view.]

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