updated 09:45 am EDT, Tue August 9, 2011
Apple races toward September expansion goal
Apple is preparing two international store openings for this Saturday. The most important may be the one happening in Florence, Italy, where an outlet is launching in the I Gigli commercial center. The store will only be Italy's sixth, and the first in the middle of the country. Also rare is its operating hours, which will run from 9AM to 10PM seven days a week.
In Australia a store is opening in the Westfield Southland mall in Cheltenham, located in the general Melbourne area. Contrasting with Italy, the Southland shop will be Australia's 12th. Hours will also be unusually conservative, for example running from just 9AM to 5:30PM Monday through Wednesday.
The rate of Apple Store openings should intensify from now through to the end of September. In July Apple promised that it would have 30 more stores by September 30th, and even after this weekend's openings, it will still have another 26 to go. The expansion is likely intended to coincide with the launch of the next iPhone, which is anticipated to take place sometime in September.