Apple logo taken off glass front, new plaza planned, other changes made
A new Apple Store planned for the Union Square area of San Francisco has been in the planning stages for some time, but a new revision to the company's plans that specifically addresses some prior concerns may finally win approval. The iPhone maker submitted new renderings and a new 3D architectural model redesigning a planned plaza with a new water feature, preserving but moving (slightly) an existing fountain, and breaking up an originally monolithic steel wall along Stockton Street.
Internal document with possible typo points to November 12
[Update: now confirmed, Retina iPad mini now available] Earlier on Monday, an internal memo on Apple's own GSX website for repair providers advised that the Retina iPad mini was to launch in seven countries on Tuesday, November 12. Shortly afterwards, online Apple Stores around the world went down for unspecified maintenance, leading many to think that the date may be correct.
Limited countries only, redeemed through Passbook
Apple Store application users in the United States have had the ability to purchase virtual gift cards through the application for just over a year, but on Tuesday Apple expanded the program to a limited number of international countries through an Apple Store app update. The virtual gift cards, which can be shared to others for use in either the retail or online Apple Store, are redeemed through the Passbook application and now available in four other countries.
Apple Stores to open early for iPad Air
Apple's retail stores will open early on Friday, Nov. 1 to serve customers eager to pick up the company's new iPad Air. Apple announced on its website on Thursday that Apple Stores will be opening at 8 a.m., an hour earlier than they typically open, in order to sell the new iPad. Apple has in the past opened its retail locations early for other product launches, including the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.
Gold version of iPhone 5s shows as shipping in October
Following sales opening in Australia, Asia, and Europe, Apple has started selling the iPhone 5s through its online store in the United States, hours before its expected retail release. While the iPhone 5c has been available to pre-order through the store since the 13th of September, and is also currently available to buy, this is the first time that the iPhone 5s is being sold through Apple itself.
Rockstar Games launches GTA V app with map, virtual pet
A companion app for Grand Theft Auto V has launched alongside the game. The free "iFruit" app, currently available for iOS but heading to Android and other phone platforms in the future, allows users to customize vehicles from outside the game, as well as a second app offering a manual and digital map for the game. A virtual pet, in the form of Chop the Dog, will reward players that look after it with in-game bonuses.
Store will take up over 1,000 square feet on second floor
This weekend, Apple will be opening a new store in Italy, in the seaside resort town of Rimini. The new store, the country's 13th, will reside in the Le Befane mall alongside 130 other retail stores, on the second floor atop a retail store called Marco Polo. The mall is said to be one of the largest in the entire country. The new store is said to be part of Apple's push to emphasize the iPhone, but will also feature other Apple products as other stores do. This is the first Apple Store in this general area, a popular resort town originally founded in 268 BC.
Unusual Thursday closing brings greater back-to-school emphasis
The online Apple Store went offline worldwide for almost five hours beginning just after midnight (ET) on Friday until nearly 5AM ET. The long downtime, just slightly above average for a significant store downtime event, is sometimes indicative of a product refresh or addition, though in this case it appears to have been for minor site update to emphasize the current "Back to School" gift card and accessories promotion. No new or refreshed product turned up, though the last time the store was down for such an xtended period was for five hours on June 10, adding the latest MacBook Air models.
Nine other stores, residences in the area also affected
Heavy rains hitting the Bellevue, WA area (near Redmond) have flooded a number of stores at the Bellevue Square mall, including the local Apple Store. Video and tweets from customers who were inside the store at the time reported that water began rushing in from one of the walls, spreading over the floor during a day of heavy rains. The store was evacuated with no injuries, though it is unclear how much damage was suffered by equipment in the store. Nine other stores at the mall and some residences in the area were also hit by flooding.
Second time leaks have disrupted flagship NYC store
Rain is again seeping into the underground store of Apple's iconic Fifth Avenue NYC store, disrupting operations as staff move electronics out of harm's way and move receptacles to catch leaking water coming into the store. Recent heavy rains early in May damaged the store, flooding the below-ground level after a slow leak turned into a full-fledged pouring incursion. The problem is thought to be a drainage issue.
Expanded, multi-floor layout gives Mac maker showcase space
[Updated with video of grand opening] Europe's latest "showcase" Apple Store, the Kurfürstendamm outlet in Berlin that is set to open on Friday at 5pm local time, looks to take its place as one of the most beautiful on the continent -- comparing favorably to premiere stores in Paris and London among others. The large facility, with some 48,000 square feet, has room for luxuries like an expanded theater space and classically-appointed conference room, while still retaining a sleek and modern main sales floor at the ground level following extensive renovations to the century-old building.
Other alerts such as shipping, changes in order now available
Apple on Tuesday updated its Apple Store app for iOS, adding an ability to send notifications to users when they are eligible for upgrade pricing on a new iPhone through their carrier. The new version (2.6, free) also adds notification support for changes in orders, such as shipping or delivery notices. Previously, the program was able to track a user's order but only when the app was actually in use. Users can now opt for push notifications, as well as schedule Genius, One to One or Specialist appointments, order products for pickup or use EasyPay to buy accessories.
Apple offers free 2-3 day shipping to beat the holiday rush
The online Apple store has posted a banner at the top of the page informing customers that they can "get it in time for the holidays with free 2-3 day shipping on everything in the store." The promotion is an annual benefit Apple provides to last minute online shoppers, and has been offered for the last six years.
Coming to retail stores tomorrow, GSM only
Following our earlier report, the online US Apple Store now has gone live with unlocked GSM-only versions of the iPhone 5 in time for the holiday buying season. The unlocked version starts at $649 for the 16GB model, mirroring pricing in other countries (such as Canada) where the unlocked version has been available right from the latest iPhone's debut. As has been traditional in the US, the company delayed the introduction of an unlocked model to allow carriers an advantage.
Points-of-sale expansion cuts into store sales increases
Analyst Charlie Wolf from Needham & Company has told his clients in a new report that Apple Store revenues have not kept pace with the growth in Apple's overall business, but that this is because the company is continuing to expand its range of points-of-sale rather than any flaw in the management of the stores. With ever more places to buy Apple products, the need to specifically visit an Apple Store for purchases has been diminished. Nonetheless, the retail stores continue to show strong growth even in a dour economy.
Residents, tourists brave cold weather, overnight stays
The Wangfujing Apple Store in Beijing opened on Saturday to large crowds that began gathering the night before, enduring cold weather to be among the first to get into the city's latest, largest and third Apple retail store. The new building includes three storeys (including a basement), Asia's first all-glass staircase and is the largest Apple Store on the continent. The new shop has a strong emphasis on training and features 300 employees, two 360-degree Genius Bars and a spectacular location with a huge LED billboard for signage.
Nova Scotia store is now easternmost in North America
Apple opened three retail stores in Canada over the weekend, with celebrations in Halifax for the first Apple store in Nova Scotia, complemented with the opening of a new store in British Columbia, as well as a re-opening for an expanded store in Calgary. The new Coquitlam store, not far from Burnaby and Port Moody, is in a northeastern suburb outside the Vancouver area.
Raises up to five percent will hit three months early
As one his first public actions as Apple's head of retail, John Browett is advancing the timetable for rolling out Apple raises for its Apple Store employees by three months, with the raises now scheduled to kick in starting June 30 rather than the previously-planned September 30. The raises are in addition to new Mac and iPad discounts given to the employees earlier this year. Raises will be between one and five percent of current salary.
Company to open 40 new stores in 2012
On the heels of last week's opening of the Murcia, Spain Apple Store, various sources have reported stores underway or near opening around the world. The next most likely international store is thought to be in Paris, France in the La Defense district, which is scheduled to open on May 26. Also coming later in the year is a new story in Salt Lake City, Utah; one near Bakersfield, California; a planned expansion of the existing store in Calgary, Alberta in Canada, and Apple has allegedly taken over a lease on a store in Plymouth, England.
Retail outlets to see more space dedicated to Apple
Apple is likely to increase its footprint outside of its existing Apple Stores, according to analysts at Piper Jaffray. The iPhone and iPad maker is looking to expand on pilot projects that have seen Apple "store-within-a-store" (SWAS) popping up in select Walmart and Target stores. Taken nationally, such a move would tremendously expand Apple's retail reach, as the two big box retailers have significantly more rural distribution than does Apple.
A second store for Scandinavia
Though still unannounced, job listings, city drawings and other clues have conclusively confirmed three forthcoming Apple retail stores in locations MacNN has reported on before. The setting for the new Yonkers, New York store has been confirmed by one of our readers as being in the Westchester Ridge Hill shopping center. Meanwhile, a new Apple store is underway in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Scandinavia may be getting a second store this fall.
Boosts user-driven support communities
The online Apple Store has added links to a new feature called "Answers from the community" that offers buyers' solutions on common questions relating to Macs, iPhones and iPads. In some cases, a single "best" answer is picked by Apple, in other cases a collection of best responses are shown. A list of top questions and popular topics are linked, taking readers to dedicated pages answering questions on a variety of topics.
Will take over former Eddie Bauer location
Apple is hiring for staff at a forthcoming Apple store at Masonville Place in London, Ontario. An internal document meant for mall employees reveals that the location, near a Gap store in a spot formerly leased by Eddie Bauer, will be "under construction until late June," indicating a late June or early July opening. The jobs are listed on both the Apple Canada site and the Masonville Place website, reports MobileSyrup.
Chicago case common in insurance disputes
An unusual arrangement between Apple, a nearby train station and the contractors who did work on both has resulted in a lawsuit from Colony Insurance against Apple, the Chicago Transit Authority and contractor Petter Construction Company over liability on an accident claim that originated when a woman slipped and fell in the construction area between the then-in-progress Lincoln Park Apple Store and the also-renovated subway station next door.
Will feature glass roof like Upper West Side store
Apple spokesperson Amy Bessette has confirmed that a new Apple Store, soon to be built in Palo Alto just one block from the existing one, will serve as a prototype design, "building on everything we've learned" in ten years of creating retail spaces, The Mercury News reports. The new facility will feature a curved glass roof and facade that leverages natural light with an unobstructed view of the showroom, elements taken from the recently-patented design of Apple's Upper West Side store in New York City.
Steve Jobs credited as one of the designers
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted a patent for the striking exterior of Apple's Upper West Side store in New York City, just over a year after the patent was first filed. The patent recognizes the unique design of the store, and credits the late Steve Jobs as one of the designers. The Upper West Side store, not to be confused with the iconic glass "cube" of the Fifth Avenue store, features a large glass storefront, along with a curved glass atrium-style roof.
Samsung selling $2 Galaxy S IIs in Australia
Samsung has engaged in guerilla marketing tactics in Australia as it seeks to steal the thunder from the impending release of the iPhone 4S. The company has opened a “pop up” store right near the Sydney Apple Store where it is selling its Galaxy S II handsets to the first ten customers each day for $2. The sale continues on to this Friday, the first day of iPhone 4S availability.
iPhone 4S pricing, pre-orders go live in Canada
Many Canadian wireless providers have began offering the newly announced iPhone 4S for pre-orders. We've summarized the prices for the various capacity models at each. The device is available in either black or white at all, and the prices are in Canadian dollars.