Stores to open early, offer paid 'grab bags' that could be worth thousands
Apple Japan will begin its traditional promotion for Japanese retail buyers, known as Fukubukuro or "Lucky Bags," starting on January 2, the company has announced. The promotion involves customers buying one of several "grab bag" gift boxes for a set price -- last year it was about 36,000 yen, or roughly $300 in current US dollars -- that could contain very valuable gifts, and usually at least top the value of the list price. Some of the boxes contained iPads or MacBook Airs, for example.
'Let peace begin with me' offered as a resonant theme to current turmoil
A new post from Apple Retail Senior Vice President (SVP) Dame Angela Ahrendts on her LinkedIn blog offers a simple holiday message and song with a theme of peace, saying her message for the season was simply "let peace begin with me." Ahrendts said she was inspired by a recent re-hearing of a song she used to play on piano, a rendition of "Let There Be Peace on Earth" by B.J. Thomas. The song, originally written by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller in 1955, offers an inspirational message of unity.
Malware on point of sale systems mirrors earlier Home Depot, Target attacks
An intrusion into Staples' point-of-sales systems earlier this year put 1.16 million credit and debit cards at risk, the retailer admitted on Friday. Approximately 115 of the company's 1,400 retail stores across the United States were affected by malware on its systems, though the store apparently managed to eradicate the malware and improve system security in mid-September.
May complicate troubleshooting in affected locations
As they have in the past, some Apple Stores are repurposing their Genius Bars to accommodate holiday sales, a report notes. The spaces may be used for things such as pick-up service, or extra room for products. Conversions are only happening as dictated by individual stores' needs and shopping traffic, and Geniuses should still be around, whether walking the floor or at tables in front of the Bars.
Options still missing from Apple online orders
People wanting to take advantage of Sprint's Easy Pay or iPhone for Life financing and leasing options should soon be able to do it at an Apple Store, a report says. Training is currently said to be underway, and some stores may in fact be ready to process the plans today. Neither option is available through Apple's website, but previously shoppers angling for an iPhone or iPad purchase under one of the two plans had to order from a Sprint company store or reseller.
Reason behind disappearance still uncertain
Bose products have returned to Apple's online store and retail chain, reports say. These include products like the SoundLink III and SoundLink Mini speakers, and the QuietComfort 20i earbuds. Bose hardware vanished from the online store on October 17, and went missing from retail around the same time or shortly thereafter.
Williamsburg Apple Store expected to debut in April
Apple is in the process of establishing a research and development facility in Japan, according to the country's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. The disclosure was made in a campaign speech ahead of Sunday's general election. Abe didn't offer any more details except to say it should be "formally announced soon," and rank with Apple's largest R&D centers in Asia. The company has been establishing new offices across the world in the past couple of years, growing R&D beyond the confines of its Cupertino-area headquarters.
Brussels outlet may find home on Gulden-Vlieslaan
Apple has started hiring for its first store in Belgium, reports note. The company has opened up six job listings, all for an outlet in Brussels. These include experts, Geniuses, and various business-facing staff.
iPhone still a minor brand in region
Although no first-party stores are expected anytime soon, Apple is nevertheless engaging in a major retail expansion in India, according to a Times of India source. In coming months, the company is expected to help establish 500 new resellers, particularly in smaller cities such as Amritsar, Pathankot, Moga, Coimbatore, Trichy, Nagpur, and Nasik. At the moment, Apple's strength is in bigger cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Chennai -- but even then it's a relatively marginal brand in the country, albeit one that has recently experienced significant growth.
Berlin, London, Tokyo getting related events same week
Apple has announced a series of hour-long US programming workshops meant to support Code.org's Hour of Code, and Computer Science Education Week, which runs from December 8-14. The workshops themselves are being held at Apple Stores on December 11, aimed at teaching children the basics of writing code. Parents must registerfor a spot through Apple's website.
Low stock could be contributing to looming financial collapse
RadioShack outlets across the US are suffering from extremely low iPhone stock, despite the critical holiday shopping season, according to Seeking Alpha. Most models aren't on shelves, and in many cases stores lack any iPhones to speak of, forcing people to use a "Ship to Store" option that takes several days. RadioShack doesn't sell the iPhone on its website, which simply directs iPhone shoppers to physical outlets.
Apple CEO may still be in DC area, sources say
[Updated with Portland store revamp] As a part of the company's World AIDS Day promotions yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook made a surprise visit to the Georgetown Apple Store in Washington, DC. He posted photos of the event on Twitter, which also show him meeting with Deborah Dugan, the CEO of the Global Fund. In a tweet of her own, Dugan thanks Apple for feeding over $75 million to The Global Fund since 2006, through specially-branded accessories and iPods. Apple doesn't offer Product (RED)-branded Macs, iPhones, or iPads, though it did produce a one-off (RED) Mac Pro in 2013.
Raises awareness alongside 'Apps for (RED)' promotion
Following a promotional push to raise money for the Global Fund, using the "Apps for (RED)" even on the App Store to offer discounted prices or in-app purchases to help fund the fight against AIDs and other diseases, Apple on Monday tinted many of its iconic signs at its retail locations red to commemorate World AIDS Day, which is held every year on December 1. The tradition began in 2012 after Tim Cook became the CEO of the company, and follows precedents established by others since at least 1991.
Proceeds from participating apps being donated to Global Fund
To mark the upcoming World AIDS Day on December 1, Apple has launched a trio of initiatives. On the 1st itself, Apple says it will donate "a portion" of its Black Friday sales at its online and retail stores to the Global Fund, which is mainly dedicated to combating AIDS but also tackles diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. On November 28, some random product purchases will include a Product (RED) iTunes gift card; any purchases made with the card in future will go to the Fund. From today through December 7, a program called "Apps for (RED)" will donate the sales from 24 iOS apps - and in some cases, special in-app purchases -- to the same cause.
Pre-ordering breakfast, early Xmas shopping included in 'magical' checkout experiences
Rich DeMuro, a tech reporter for Los Angeles TV station KTLA, met up with Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue for a televised segment that aired Monday night, showing the two men shopping around town for various items and paying for them with Apple Pay. The spree, which took place in Santa Monica, included pre-ordering and paying for breakfast from Panera Bread using the app before the men even arrived at the restaurant, and later buying items from various retailers, including the Apple Store.
Clerks expected to ditch lanyards
Apple is planning some minor changes at its retail stores in preparation for the holiday season, sources say. One of these includes dressing clerks in red holiday shirts. A permanent adjustment, though, will involve removing neck lanyards from the standard uniform; to compensate for the lack of ID, clerks will reportedly be asked to introduce themselves more often.
Handful of grocery chains supporting platform so far
Winn-Dixie and sibling grocery chain Bi-Lo have started accepting Apple Pay, accounts say. Both are based in the southeastern US, in states such as Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. There are over 500 Winn-Dixie outlets, and more than 800 Bi-Lo locations. With the new additions, there are still only five grocery chains in the US that support Apple Pay; the others include Meijer, Wegmans, and Whole Foods.
All 1,400 US locations ready, retailer says
Business supply chain Staples has begun accepting Apple Pay at all of its 1,400 US retail locations, according to an announcement. Retail shoppers must have an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. The company has also begun accepting Apple Pay through its iOS app, however, where people with an iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3 can also make purchases.
EMV tech becoming standard in US by end of 2015
Retail payment service Square has opened up preorders for a new version of the Square Reader, designed to scan chip-based credit and debit cards. It supports older stripe-based cards as well, and the company is promising end-to-end encryption, as well as active tamper detection. It's compatible with iOS and Android, requiring only the appropriate apps and an account with Square for paying service fees.
Budget retailer to host three short-term 'events'
Walmart will be including Apple products in three different US Black Friday sales "events," the retailer has announced. The first event, actually scheduled for November 27 starting at 6PM local time, will include a 16GB non-Retina first-gen Wi-Fi iPad mini for $199 ($50 less than Apple's price), bundled with a $30 gift card. Customers also be able to buy a set of Beats Wireless headphones for $149, $130 below normal retail price.
Location could include store, office space
Apple has leased a major portion of the Broadway Trade Center in downtown Los Angeles, a new rumor claims. The building measures 1.1 million square feet, and currently has several shops on the ground floor and a manufacturer above. Apple has allegedly signed a lease for "several hundred thousand" square feet; the rumor, from an anonymous source, further suggests that Apple may turn the building into miniature campus with offices, residences, and an Apple Store. A portion of the campus might even be dedicated to selling Beats products.
Store could be intended to attract Belgian shoppers
Apple is preparing a new store in Lille, France which, barring unusual delays, should open in November, reports say. A black construction facade with the company's logo has been spotted on Rue Faidherbe; such barricades usually go up in the last few weeks before a store opening. The shop should span two floors, and take up slightly over 15,000 square feet.
Deal in-store only
As a part of a November 8 promotional event, the US branch of Best Buy will be giving away gift cards with purchases of an iPad Air or MacBook Air. Buyers of a first- or second-generation iPad Air will get a $50 card; the card value jumps to $100 when buying a MacBook. Shoppers must go to "select" retail outlets to qualify.
Could trigger retail war
(Updated with news of CurrentC hack) Retailers partnering with MCX on the upcoming CurrentC mobile payment system are contractually obligated to use CurrentC exclusively, according to the New York Times. Several of the retailers say that if they break their contracts, there are steep fines in place. This will block several popular payment platforms, namely Apple Pay, Softcard, and Google Wallet.
Company admits to sagging iTunes music sales
Apple's 2014 10-K filing, just published by the Securities and Exchange Commission, shows major increases in acquisitions and research spending. Even excluding its $3 billion Beats takeover, the company still managed to increase acquisition spending from $496 million to $957 million during the last fiscal year. Annual research and development spending has more than doubled during the past three years, rising from $2.4 billion to $6 billion.
Claims public, business response to service 'overwhelmingly positive'
Apple has issued a formal response to CVS and Rite Aid blocking Apple Pay at their stores. "The feedback we are getting from customers and retailers about Apple Pay is overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic," the company says. "We are working to get as many merchants as possible to support this convenient, secure and private payment option for consumers. Many retailers have already seen the benefits and are delighting their customers at over 220,000 locations."
Service would help shoppers make better decisions about online purchases
Former Apple retail chief Ron Johnson, along with his former Apple colleague Jerry McDougal and former Apple creative director Tom Suiter have teamed up in a new retail-oriented startup endeavor called Enjoy, promising to help consumers spend more wisely instead of just aiming for the cheapest price. The company, which launches next year, will help consumers make smarter choices on buying, such as educating shoppers on the finer points of a camera to promote the best overall value.
Argues China will become company's biggest market
As part of his trip to China, Apple CEO Tim Cook has told local media that the company is planning to open 25 stores in Greater China during the next two years. "Greater" China includes not just mainland China but Hong Kong and Taiwan. So far there are no Apple Stores in Taiwan, but there are three in Hong Kong and a dozen on the mainland, most of those being split between Beijing and Shanghai.
Option temporarily restricted to Wi-Fi models
Shoppers at Apple's online store now have the option of selecting Personal Pickup as a delivery option for the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. When preorders opened last Friday, the company required all orders to be shipped. Notably, some stores are listed as having iPads ready for pickup today, even though Apple Store workers are saying they won't have tablets on sale until later this week, or even next week. Shipped orders are beginning to arrive on doorsteps however.
Demand may have pushed up schedule
A loyalty program for Apple Pay may be ready to go in time for the holidays, says Bank Innovation. Some retail sources had previously suggested this was unlikely, in part because of doubt about the prospects of a large shift in customer behavior happening right before the holiday season. Real-world market demand may be pushing up the timetable for a loyalty offering, however.
Country's first location with more conventional design
Apple's second store in Turkey is launching this Saturday at 10AM, the company has announced. The outlet is situated on one of the middle floors of Istanbul's Akasya Shopping Mall. It will be open from 10AM to 10PM seven days a week, and the company is already beginning to accept reservations for appointments including workshops and Genius Bar service.
Company's performance generally healthy
In the wake of its official announcement, Apple has posted a detailed breakdown (PDF) of its Q4 financial results. On a regional basis, the company did well in most cases, for example increasing Americas revenue 17 percent year-over-year to $16.247 billion, and European revenue 19 percent to $9.535 billion. "Greater" China -- including Hong Kong and Taiwan -- advanced one percent to $5.778 billion, and Japan was up five percent to $3.507 billion. Only the rest of the Asia Pacific region saw problems, with revenue dipping three percent to $1.923 billion. Global retail sales rose 15 percent to $5.133 billion.
Relative handful of third-party apps currently showing support
The official Apple Store app has been updated to v3.1, enabling support for online Apple Pay transactions. Shoppers can now also make NFC-based payments at the company's retail outlets, but this doesn't require an app update; in either scenario, users must have a compatible device running iOS 8.1, which was released earlier today. Online payments are supported by the iPhone 6/6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3. Only the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus can be used at retail.
Comes despite companies settling lawsuit
In spite of the two companies settling a lawsuit over noise cancellation patents, Apple has gone ahead and removed Bose headphones and speakers from its online store, visitors note. Rumors surfaced a week ago that Apple was planning to remove Bose products from its stores. Why it would want to was uncertain, but one point of speculation was animosity because of the lawsuit.
Decision may be linked to Apple Watch
Apple may, in the near future, stop selling Fitbit products at its retail stores, sources claim. No explanation has been given, but it's speculated that the reason may be the Apple Watch, which is shipping early next year and will share similar functions, even if it's more expensive and not intended purely as a fitness device. So far, Apple doesn't appear to be taking action against any other fitness trackers, but Fitbit controls nearly 70 percent of that market.
Plan only pegged for 'the near future'
Authorized Apple service providers -- and presumably Apple itself -- will soon start servicing Beats speakers and headphones, according to a memo to providers obtained by a Greek website. The message states that "in the near future, Apple will be responsible for providing service" for Beats products. The company adds that it is now sending out contract addendums, and will publish articles explaining the exact processes for handling Beats gear.
Company increasing pace of US store openings as new products roll out
Apple has departed from its slower 1-2 new or revamped store openings per month for its US operations, and will launch its third and fourth US-based stores this month in Florida and New Hampshire, respectively, this week. Following on the heels of store openings in Marlborough, Massachusetts and Trumbull, Connecticut, the company will unveil its next store in Sarasota, Florida as part of the grand opening of a new, $315 million University Town Center mall on October 16. A new store in Manchester, New Hampshire will open on October 18.
Official announcement expected at Oct. 16th press event
A leaked internal memo from US pharmacy chain Walgreens suggests that Apple Pay will launch this Saturday, October 18. The memo asks store managers to prepare workers for questions from the public. It also suggests that people will "only need to tap their iPhone 6 to the upper portion of the pinpad" to make a purchase. In truth the technology is slightly more complex, requiring a person to have a digit on their Touch ID sensor, and Apple Pay pre-configured with the card(s) they intend to use.
Beats acquisition may be to blame
(Updated with references to Bose/Beats lawsuit) Apple is preparing to pull all of Bose's audio products from its stores, according to sources for MacRumors and MacNN. The MacRumors source says that the inventory change is due to start next week, and that workers will get instructions in the next few days. Commenting on the claim, the MacNN source suggests that it's likely true and "falls in line with a shelving reorganization for Christmas that we've already seen that's got nothing from Bose on it."
New York Amazon store claimed to act as mini warehouse for same-day deliveries
Amazon may be preparing to open its first physical retail store, reports claim, with an experimental store set to be unveiled in New York City. The online retailer is allegedly looking to open its first brick-and-mortar location on 34th Street in Manhattan, with the space expected to be turned into an Amazon pop-up store in time for the holiday shopping period.
Project years in development
Apple will finally open a long-awaited store in Edinburgh, Scotland on October 18, according to an official banner outside the shop. Efforts to build an Edinburgh outlet date back to at least 2010. Once a location on Princes Street was secured, the company then spent over a year in construction. This was followed by another nine-month delay as it worked to finalize the store's design.
Country's 15th location
[Updated with two American store openings] On Saturday at 10AM local time, Apple is opening a new Italian store in Marghera, near Venice, according to the company's website. The outlet will be based in the Nave de Vero shopping center, which has over 100 stores spanning several floors. Apple's usual black construction facade went up in the mall earlier this year.
HR promises more perks for retail staff
Apple's HR head, Denise Young Smith, has issued a memo to workers illustrating new and expanded benefits the company is implementing. These include extended parental leave, education reimbursements for classes taken, an expanded donation-matching program, subsidized student loan refinancing, and full acceleration of stock in the case of a worker's death. The parental leave changes mean that American mothers with Apple can take up to four weeks prior to delivery, and up to 14 weeks after; their partners can take up to six weeks. While not radical, the upgrade makes Apple more competitive with other major Silicon Valley firms.
Jonathan Ive, Marc Newson among celebrities present
Today's Apple Watch event at Colette mostly involved units running on demo loop behind locked glass, visitors say. Members of the press are being allowed to wear the product, but even then, the hardware is still running on loop. Apple is also declining to provide any more information on specifications, pricing, or a launch date.
Could involve public hands-on
Apple and a Parisian fashion boutique, Colette, are planning a "one day only experience" on September 30, according to the latter's website. The event will run from 11AM to 7PM local time at Colette's storefront on Rue Saint-Honoré. Although neither company has said so explicitly, it appears to involve the Apple Watch, since Apple has adopted a fashion angle to marketing the product and the logo for the event resembles the Watch's homescreen.
Flagship Microsoft Store several blocks away from iconic Apple Cube store
Microsoft will be launching its first flagship retail location in Manhattan, a few blocks away from Apple's iconic Fifth Avenue glass cube store. The software giant has confirmed its Microsoft Store will be taking the place of a Fendi shop located at 677 Fifth Avenue, with executives claiming the store has already been five years in the making.
China still not on list due to regulatory morass; grey market thriving
While buyers in China impatiently wait for their government to move the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus through a complicated regulatory process that prevented the new smartphones from being in the first wave of countries offering it, Apple is moving ahead with its expansion of retail sales to another 22 countries beginning today. The US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the UK saw long lineups and record demand on September 19, a phenomenon that is likely to be repeated.
Administrators refer Phones 4U customers to credit card companies
Customers of UK retailer Phones 4U may not receive a refund for their pre-ordered iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. PWC, the administrators of the failed retail chain, has effectively reversed an earlier decision to allow for refunds to proceed, with affected customers now extremely unlikely to receive a refund directly from the company at all.
Approximately 900 jobs to be saved by store sale
More stores from failed British mobile phone retailer Phones 4U are being scooped up for use by a second carrier, with shops to be rebranded and reopened in a short space of time. EE, operator of Orange and T-Mobile in the country, has signed a deal with administrators to acquire 58 of the stores from the company, pending court approval, and in the process attempt to keep on 359 affected employees at the locations.
Rebranding of 140 Phones 4U stores to Vodafone expected in coming weeks
European carrier Vodafone is going to attempt to help some of the employees affected by UK retailer Phones 4U's administration proceedings. The mobile phone network will step in and acquire 140 of the chain's stores across the country, and in the process take on approximately 900 of the affected 5,596 staff at the saved locations.