Brings iPhone in line with other Apple products
Apple has reduced the no-questions return window for iPhone buyers from 30 calendar days to 14, sources and new terms on Apple's US website reveal. The change is technically only due to take effect tomorrow, March 13th, but Apple's website has already made the new policy standard. As usual, returned phones must have been bought directly from Apple -- online or offline -- and include all their original box contents.
Long-delayed outlet ready to begin construction
Following preliminary approval last month, Apple has received final approval to build its upcoming Union Square store from the San Francisco Planning Commission and the city's Board of Supervisors. "We are thrilled that the city of San Francisco has given its final approval to begin work on our new store and public plaza, which will make a wonderful addition to Union Square and create hundreds of local jobs," says Apple spokeswoman Amy Bessette. "Our Stockton Street store has been incredibly popular, welcoming over 13 million customers since it opened nine years ago, and we look forward to making a new home on Union Square."
May make iBeacons more practical
Yesterday's iOS 7.1 update also made changes to the way iBeacons work, reports say. Previously, an iPhone could only pick up notifications from an iBeacon if it had a supporting app open or running in the background; now those messages will appear even if the app has been completely closed (assuming the user has granted permission for push notifications). Alerts are also said to be more responsive, for instance reacting instantly on leaving an iBeacon's broadcast area by ceasing any notifications.
Initiative making gradual international expansion
As anticipated, the iPhone Reuse and Recycling program has been introduced at Canadian Apple Stores. The option lets people trade in an old iPhone for a gift card, usually to put towards the purchase of a new phone. In Canada, Apple is promising "up to $275" for previous devices.
Retailer ups smartphone trade-in credit by $50 for new iPhone buyers
Beginning on Sunday, the US branch of Target will run another trade-in promotion for iPad 2 owners. People who bring in a used iPad 2 will be awarded a gift card worth at least $150. Although that credit can only be used at Target, the company is also offering an extra $30 card if a person buys a new iPad. $150 is generally higher than most specialized third-party trade-in services offer. The promotion ends March 15th.
First Apple outlet in Turkey
The delayed grand opening of the Istanbul Apple Store will take place on April 4, says local site ElmaDergisi. The report further claims that Turkish President Abdullah Gül will be present, along with Apple CEO Tim Cook. Cook only rarely appears at Apple Stores, and it's even rarer for major government officials to inaugurate a location.
System prevents visually impaired from entering own PINs
A recent class action lawsuit -- filed last week in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida -- charges that the point-of-sale devices used by Apple Store workers discriminate against the visually impaired. Because shoppers can't enter a debit card PIN by themselves, plaintiff David New argues, Apple is in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Other retailers use POS devices with "tactiley discernible keypad surfaces," the complaint remarks, meaning that there's no fundamental reason why Apple Stores should be different.
Canadian expansion still in the wings
The iPhone Reuse and Recycle program has been extended into France, Apple has confirmed. The program lets people trade in an older iPhone towards the purchase of a new one. It debuted in the US last year, and has since spread to the UK and (in modified form) India. French iPhone owners are promised "up to €215" ($296) for trade-ins.
Rules obstacle to Apple Stores
In a bid to open official Apple Stores in the region, Apple is asking the Indian government to relax rules requiring companies to source 30 percent of their components from Indian firms, says the Business Standard. Apple management staff have reportedly met with Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion officials for talks. The company's position is that iOS devices simply don't have enough hardware inside to be able to meet the 30 percent rule.
Apple TV promotion may foreshadow hardware update
(Updated with official confirmation) Apple retail workers are being told that as of today, anyone who buys an Apple TV from an Apple Store will get a free $25 iTunes gift card, according to sources. The promotion is expected to end March 5th. While the offer may simply be a means of boosting Apple TV sales, it's strongly speculated that Apple is trying to clear inventory ahead of a rumored hardware refresh which could take place as soon as April, if not earlier. Third-party vendors have been cutting their own prices in recent weeks.
Outlet should be ready within months
Progress is already well underway toward the first Apple Store in Dayton, Ohio, reports say. The shop is replacing a former Lane Bryant at The Greene, an outdoor shopping center. A signature black construction facade has already been put in place there, and 12 job openings for a Dayton store have been posted on Apple's website. Sources for the Dayton Business Journal also point to The Greene, but neither permits nor construction workers are naming the mall's future tenant.
Move intended to maintain competitiveness in consumer electronics market
Sony Electronics today announced plans to restructure its organization, including a heavy cut in US retail presence in order to maintain what the company calls "competitiveness in an evolving consumer electronics market." In the next few months, Sony will lay off 1,000 employees across all of its sites, including the personnel attached to 20 US Sony Stores.
Company continues spreading iOS 7 aesthetics
Apple has revamped the look of its retail website to borrow cues from iOS 7, visitors note. This includes things like a flatter, less skeuomorphic design, more white space, and iOS-style blue buttons. The changes extend to individual store pages as well.
Program still in limited reach internationally
Apple's iPhone Reuse and Recycling trade-in program will be launching in Canada in the next few weeks, a source says. The person explains that staff training is due to begin this week. As elsewhere, the backend of the program is expected to be handled by BrightStar.
Corporate structure continues to change
Apple has promoted its former VP of global retail, Denise Young Smith, to a new role as the company's head of human resources, Bloomberg says. Smith is replacing Joel Podolny, who will now concentrate exclusively on Apple University. The latter is an internal institution, geared toward indoctrinating executives with the company's unique practices.
Store to become 'even more iconic' than New York Fifth Avenue showcase
Following a hearing on Thursday, San Francisco's Planning Commission has issued a preliminary approval "with conditions" of the final plans for Apple's new Union Square Apple Store. The design, which has undergone a number of revisions and tweaks to accommodate city concerns, now embraces a historic folk art fountain it once planned to shunt aside, and creates a seating area and plaza along its back wall, as well as a front facade featuring giant glass doors.
Also first Apple Store in all of South America
Brazil's first Apple Store will open in Rio de Janeiro's VillageMall on Saturday, February 15, Apple has announced. The shop will launch at 11AM that Saturday; regular hours will run from then to 11PM Monday through Saturday, and from 1PM to 9PM on Sundays. Apple already has a number of workshops planned, including ones for the iPhone and iPhoto on the 15th.
Changes include new shape, height reduction and full-height bay windows
A revised filing scheduled for hearing with the San Francisco Planning Department on February 5 reveals changes to the proposed storefront and construction details on the new Union Square Apple store location in the Bay Area city. The 258-page filing for the 300 Post Street store outlines the 23,470 square foot store and outer areas where a Levi's store now exists.
Santa Monica store dealing with misplaced sensors
Apple Stores are using "sniffer" sensors to detect and remove dangerous or unpleasant odors, according to workers at the company's Third Street Promenade outlet in Santa Monica (pictured). Some people have complained that the shop smells like body odor, especially in the early morning. One employee explains that the location's sniffers are placed high in the building, which means that they aren't triggering the ventilation system as quickly as they should.
PayPal tech would be 'white-labeled' to blend into Apple system
PayPal has approached Apple about integrating itself into the latter's rumored payment technology, three payment industry executives claim. The people tell Re/code that PayPal is effectively willing to white-label portions of its payment service if Apple is willing to use them. Some shared components might include fraud detection, backend infrastructure, and actual payment processing.
Systems consisting of Kindle Fire tablet, card reader could head to stores this summer
A pair of reports claim that Amazon is moving further into the payments market, from two different directions. One plan involves offering retail stores a point-of-sale system using Kindle tablets, while another involves the creation of a system for person-to-person payments, in a similar service to that currently offered by payment processing competitor PayPal.
Samsung-only stores brings manufacturer closer to Apple retail efforts
Samsung will be expanding upon its concept of a store-within-a-store, by completely taking over a number of stores owned by a European retailer. A total of 60 existing stores from Carphone Warehouse's chain of 1,400 will be converted into shops selling just Samsung produce, including smartphones, tablets, notebooks, and wearable devices such as the Galaxy Gear smart watch.
iPod numbers half those shipped last year
In addition to its public announcement, Apple has also published a detailed breakdown (PDF) of its first-quarter results. Significantly, revenue from the Americas actually declined one percent year-over-year to $20.098 billion. This was compensated for by growth in other regions; Europe and Japan were up five and 11 percent (respectively), while "greater" China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) leapt ahead 29 percent to $8.844 billion. The growth was likely spurred by sales of new iPhones and iPads, since mainland China was made a first-tier launch country for the first time in 2013.
Suggests February debut rather than March
Teaser signage has gone up at the location of Apple's future store in Rio de Janeiro, pointing to an opening in the near future. The site of the store, the Village Mall, has shared a photo of the signage via Instagram; the Apple logo uses a variant of a colored dots motif seen elsewhere, but done up in Brazil's national colors. Apple normally only puts up official signage a few weeks before a store launches.
Replacement could be expensive proposition
A snowblower has shattered one of the glass panels on top of the Fifth Avenue Apple Store in New York City, Apple has confirmed. The city was bombarded with a snowstorm on Tuesday, and the glass broke later on as crews were attempting to clean up. A store worker tells AppleInsider that although the panel was badly cracked, the shop didn't close and will continue to operate as usual. The location is normally open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, only shutting down in dire circumstances or in preparation for a major product launch.
Regional store now offering in-store pickup, celebrates with sale
Buyers who live on the east coast or midwestern parts of the US may be able to score themselves a discounted iPad with savings up to $60 on brand-new models. Regional retail H. H. Gregg is offering the savings at all of its 228 retail locations thanks to the arrival of the iPad for in-store pickup, an expansion of its existing relationship with Apple. Until February 1, customer can save $60 on a 64GB iPad Air, and $40 on the 16GB and 32GB versions. The iPad mini models are offered with a $20 discount over normal retail price.
Anticipatory shipping patent directs products to customers mid-delivery
Amazon may start shipping items to customers before an order is completed in the future, if a recently-granted patent is anything to go by. The patent by the retailer for a "Method and system for anticipatory package shipping" was granted on Christmas Eve, with the proposed system potentially lowering the delivery times for customer orders.
Visitors hoped to score exclusive t-shirt
The opening of Apple's new flagship store in Brisbane, Australia was met with unusually long lineups, observers note. People are said to have started forming a line almost 15 hours before the 10AM launch. Many of the people in line were reportedly aiming for the store's exclusive launch t-shirt; Apple regularly gives away custom shirts during the openings of high-profile outlets.
Support for iBeacons building slowly
Shopkick has announced a trial of iBeacon installations at 100 American Eagle Outfitter stores, including ones belonging to sibling brand Aerie. The implementation will be the largest deployment of iBeacons at a clothing chain so far, following one of its own at Macy's, which was the inaugural retail use of iBeacons. The technology only began deploying at Apple Stores a couple of weeks later.
Boost Mobile to offer Moto G, its first Motorola product since 2011
Boost Mobile, the pre-paid Sprint imprint, has announced the release of Motorola's Moto G through its nationwide retail stores and online. The first Motorola product offered by Boost Mobile since 2011, the 3G budget smartphone has a 4.5-inch HD screen made with scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass, and possesses a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core processor.
System aimed at small businesses
A company called Beaconic has announced the iBeacon Retail Kit, intended to make deploying Apple's iBeacon technology easier for retailers. The kit includes two or more Bluetooth 4.0 beacons and an online campaign manager. Each beacon has a two-year battery life, and a range up to 60 meters (197 feet). While iBeacon is designed for iPhones, Beaconic says it is also working on an Android app.
Handles card, barcode scanning
Accessory-maker Griffin and ShopKeep have announced ShopKeep Mobile, a new point-of-sale case for the iPod touch. The case uses Griffin's Olli hardware platform, but is specifically design to be used with ShopKeep's POS app. Built into the Mobile are a credit card reader and a barcode scanner; the unit can also connect to receipt printers.
Target believed to be largest in group of companies attacked by hacking group
More customers of large US retailers may have been affected by holiday shopping hacks than originally thought, according to a report. Three more retailers have apparently been targeted by hackers using similar techniques to the attacks on Target and Neiman Marcus, though it has yet to be revealed if it is the same collective responsible for Target's intrusion.
Remodeled historic WWII building faced numerous setbacks
Delayed by over two years from its initial projected opening, a new flagship store in Brisbane, Australia is finally set to open on Friday, January 17. The latest Brisbane store is housed in the historic MacArthur Chambers building, which was used as a base of operations during World War II and named for General Douglas MacArthur. The project was once thought abandoned due to a contractor's bankruptcy filing and difficulty in approving renovations, but the obstacles were eventually overcome.
Partial names, postal addresses, phone numbers taken
Target has revealed that the data breach affected far more than initially thought, with as many as 70 million account records taken in the hacking. Aside from revealing a far higher figure than the 40 million accounts believed to have been taken, the retailer has promised that those affected "will have zero liability for the cost of any fraudulent charges arising from the breach."
Expands relationship, expected to follow Canadian Staples model
While the Canadian version of Staples has been selling Apple iPads and related iOS accessories for nearly two years, the US version of the office supply chain only began offering the tablets through its website last October. Today, however, the relationship with Apple expanded into offering the latest iPad models in US Staples stores, starting today. The chain also carries Apple-branded and third-party accessories such as the Apple TV and Airport models.
Third-party storefront only sells new items, will participate in 'Red Friday'
Further expanding its reach in China, Apple has formally launched an unusual second online storefront in China. The new online site is part of "Tmall," a virtual mall with thousands of official retail outlets for various brands. Apple will continue to operate its own apple.cn website, but is evidently willing to go where the customers are in an effort to sell new products, particularly iPhones, to Chinese customers. Millions of Chinese users use the Tmall concept as a one-stop site for online shopping.
Bags usually highly sought-after
iPad Airs and MacBook Airs were among the contents of the Lucky Bags sold at Japanese Apple Stores this year, reports note. The bags, given away for the New Year, were first announced on December 26th alongside a one-day sale at the Japanese online Apple Store. People had to pay 36,000 yen (about $340) to reserve one, but didn't know what they would contain until they picked them up.
Thieves mimicked style of recent Berlin heist
The recently-opened Haarlem Apple Store in the Netherlands fell victim to a smash-and-grab robbery overnight, according to local reports. Residents in the area heard a loud bang, which later turned out to have been a car used to ram through the glass front doors, left at the scene. The thieves are said to have used two scooters to escape.
A barricade sign has gone up for Apple's new store in Brisbane, Australia, reports note. While it doesn't mention a particular launch date, such signs typically appear about 10 to 14 days ahead of an Apple retail opening. Since the company normally prefers to debut stores on the weekend, January 10th or the 11th may be the most likely window.
Initiative long in development
CEO Tim Cook and some other Apple executives will be visiting Turkey in February to discuss a potential education deal estimated to be worth up to $4 billion, according to local publication Emlak Kulisi. Cook is expected to meet with Turkish President Abdullah Gül to discuss the country's "FATIH Project," which will replace textbooks and other aspects of Turkish schooling with tablets and computers. Apple has been vying to make the iPad Turkey's tablet of choice; in May, controversial Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Apple's headquarters.
City hit with several car-based robberies in recent times
Apple's Kurfürstendamm store in Berlin was rammed with a car earlier today during a smash-and-grab robbery, says German newspaper Bild. Around 4:15 in the morning, the thieves crashed an Opel Corsa through the doors, and proceeded to take a number of iPhones, iPads, and Macs before fleeing in a pair of Audis. So far there is no word on the progress of the police investigation.
Alleged hiring of Tim Gudgel could help Samsung create retail outlets
Samsung could be expanding its retail efforts in the future, with potential help reportedly coming from a senior Apple Store designer. The telecoms arm of the electronics producer in the United States has allegedly tapped Tim Gudgel to create its own full retail stores, as the company looks to expand from its current store-within-a-store concept it currently operates inside Best Buy outlets.
Recently-refreshed MacBooks, wide iMac availability credited
According to new data from retail analyst NPD, revealed in a note to investors from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, US Mac sales are up 29 percent from the year-ago quarter. In part, the figures come from the fact that the just-redesigned iMac was severely constrained in the year-ago quarter, with extremely limited supplies largely missing the holiday buying season entirely. In addition, the company has recently refreshed most of its Mac lineup to Intel's latest "Haswell" chip.
Shenzhen store given over to iPhone banners, phones, accessories
While again not a confirmation of a formal agreement between China Mobile and Apple, one of the carrier's resellers or retail outlets is already aggressively promoting the forthcoming LTE network and pushing the latest iPhone models as being compatible with it. An American blogger in China going by the name "PRC and Me" spotted and photographed the store in Shenzhen's Futian district, featuring advertising material, accessories and on-display iPhones.
Report claims Pantry launch in 2014 with 2,000-item inventory
Amazon could be going after customers that buy groceries from warehouse clubs and wholesale retailers, according to a report. The online retailer is apparently planning to launch Pantry, a service that will offer the same packaged grocery items typically found in Costco and Sam's Club, such as cleaning supplies and canned goods.
Current and projected future sales paint rosy picture for Apple
Surging on the strength of its new models, Apple's premium iPhone 5s and mid-range iPhone 5c continued to dominate sales with all the major US wireless carriers, with only Samsung's flagship Galaxy S4 positioned as a challenger. US sales data also showed an unsurprising dominance by the iPad in tablet sales, with a new study suggesting that 72 percent of future tablet buyers plan on getting an iPad.
Brings 2013 store total to 448, 30 more planned for 2014
What are probably the last two Apple Store openings for 2013 will take place this Saturday, December 14 with openings of the expanded and remodelled Stonestown store in San Francisco, and an all-new store in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Stonestown location has more than doubled its original square footage by moving to a location near the original store, which opened in 2004. The Düsseldorf store is said to be located in the upscale Kö-Bogen mall in the Königsallee shopping district.
Bluetooth LE continues retail push
Less than a week after Apple began deploying its iBeacon technology inside US retail stores, Qualcomm has launched its own alternative. Known as Gimbal, Qualcomm's proximity beacons also take advantage of low-power Bluetooth LE to help retailers optimize their smartphone-enhanced shopping experience as customers move throughout a store.
One of several annual 'gifts' Apple gives retail and other workers
Again this holiday season, Apple has indicated it will be offering its retail and other workers steep discounts on selected accessories, in addition to a modest break on the price of iTunes Gift Cards. The company annually changes up its holiday-season offers to employees, but usually reveals price breaks on certain store items on top of the normal discount employees routinely receive on hardware and software purchases. Discounts can be as high as 65 percent off the retail price on third-party items sold at Apple Stores.