updated 06:20 pm EDT, Thu May 19, 2011
Upgrades anticipated this weekend
May 19th represents the 10th anniversary of the Apple retail chain. The company began with two outlets in 2001, one located in McLean, Virginia, the other in Glendale, California. Over 320 stores now exist around the world. Although most of these are based in the US and the UK, and a dozen countries in total now have shops, including China and Japan.
The stores are credited with expanding the public visibility of Apple products, also giving people the chance to try things hands-on and find help and training. During major Apple product launches the shops are home to the longest lineups, and often the focus of local media. Easy access to expensive electronics has had a downside, with Apple Stores coming under increasing attack by thieves.
While Apple has yet to draw much attention to the anniversary, the company is believed to be preparing locations for a major overhaul. Changes are rumored to include "Startup Session" areas, the use of iPad as signage, and more elaborate displays and sound systems. Some or all Apple Store employees could be equipped with iPads.