updated 03:20 pm EDT, Mon May 16, 2011
Could be linked to 10th retail anniversary
Apple may have a "major product launch" scheduled for May 19th or shortly thereafter, a source with the company suggests. The date marks the 10th anniversary of Apple's retail stores, but some unusual preparations are said to be on the way for the weekend. A special overnight shift is expected to run from Saturday night through to mid-Sunday, for instance, with about 10 to 15 people participating at each store. This includes a mix of all "visuals" workers, a manager, a business team member, some Geniuses, a backroom worker and some general clerks.
Making the situation more curious is the claim that shift workers will be required to lock cellphones in the main office and sign a non-disclosure agreement. Stores have allegedly already received new hardware to install, with the expectation of more on Friday or Saturday. Anything an outlet has received is supposedly being kept "under lock and key" until after close on Saturday.
For extra secrecy it's said that Apple workers will be putting up black curtains in store windows. Mandatory meetings are scheduled for Sunday, May 22nd, and workers have reportedly been downloading gigabytes of new files from corporate marked "training." The material is stored in zipped, password-protected files that no one will have access to until Saturday afternoon, the source says.
The preparations are consistent with a product launch, but what Apple might ship on such short notice is unknown. Mac OS X Lion is only due to release in the summer, and a next-generation iPhone is only anticipated in the fall. A MacBook Air update has been rumored as coming soon.