Apple Online Store frontpage redesigned ahead of Black Friday, pushing iOS devices, Macs and Beats accessories

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For Black Friday, Apple has refreshed the frontpage of its online store with a rather-drastic redesign. Each product category now dominates the webpage, with full-bleed images of their main product lines. The new iPad updates get the top spot, but interestingly Apple TV and Beats headphones also get prime placement. In fact, the product images for Beats accessories are so large, it only takes four images to dominate the screen.

The strap-line ‘From one gift come many’ headlines the page, which also links up with Apple’s upcoming retail store holiday changes. The same tagline will soon be featured in Apple Store windows around the world, highlighting the wide scope of the iPhone and iPad, as shown below.

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Flagship Apple Store and office space rumored for Broadway Trade Center in downtown Los Angeles

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Apple may be preparing to move into the historic Broadway Trade Center in downtown Los Angeles according to the latest rumor from ifo Apple Store. The company has reportedly leased the building for use as office space as well as a retail outlet.

Additionally, the report claims that some of that office space will be dedicated to the recently acquired Beats by Dre, which took up residence in a brand new Culver City facility earlier this summer.

The five-story structure was built in 1908 and boasts 1.1 million square feet of floor space. Apple would be a prime candidate for the space as the city continues a ten-year initiative to “Bring Back Broadway” by reviving the dormant theaters and other businesses in the area, including “more than a million square feet of vacant commercial space,” according to the commission’s website.

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Fitbit fitness tracking lineup dropped from Apple Online Store

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Apple Watch will include fitness and health tracking features

Update: Fitbit statement below the fold…

If you’re in the market for a Fitbit device and you’re shopping at the Apple Store, you’ll probably have to shop elsewhere to purchase the fitness tracker. Following report from Re/Code last month that Apple planned to drop the Fitbit line of wearable devices from its Apple Store lineup, Apple has today removed the Fitbit Flex and other Fitbit products from its online store following low inventory over the past week. While its unclear why Apple is no longer selling Fitbit products through its retail channels, on the surface the move is similar to Apple’s decision to discontinue selling Bose headphones and speakers at its retail and online stores.

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Apple reportedly removing Bose products from retail stores as NFL bans & Bose sues Beats

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Bose headphones and audio products could soon get the boot from Apple retail stores, according to a report from MacRumors citing “a reliable source.”

While Apple’s acquisition of Beats would seem like the obvious reason behind replacing the many Bose headphones and speakers currently used with iOS and Mac demo units, the report also claims that Apple will be removing Bose products from store shelves in addition to the demo units. Read more

This is Apple’s retail store gameplan for iPhone 6/Plus launch

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The big day is almost here. After months of speculation, a momentous keynote from Tim Cook, and record preorders, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will officially hit store shelves this Friday. Apple is going to great lengths to ensure that Friday runs smoothly for its customers and employees.

We’ve tracked down Apple’s retail gameplan so you’ll know what to expect on launch day including what percentage of iPhones Apple Stores are required to hold back, refreshment times (Starbucks usually) and Personal Setup details …
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Former Apple SVP of Retail Ron Johnson talks Apple and Microsoft Stores, offers surprising praise for Surface 3

Ron Johnson at Apple store opening

Former Apple Senior Vice President of Retail (then ousted JCPenney CEO) Ron Johnson made a somewhat rare public-facing appearance on Andreessen Horowitz’s podcast. The discussion comes in at just under half an hour and features the former head of Apple Retail discussing his experience with leading the Apple Store as well as the challenge for up-and-coming startup brands to afford brick-and-mortar retail channels, but more interesting from an Apple perspective is Johnson’s praise for Microsoft’s retail stores and the Surface 3 tablet that the company heavily markets against Apple’s MacBook Air.

“I think the Microsoft stores have succeeded much more than popular opinion. [...] I think it’s really helped, for instance, the Surface 3. It’s a really great product and we all know that. Everyone who has tried a Surface 3 is pretty blown away with the software, the interaction, how it can be a tablet and a computer, its part of the future. Without those stores that Surface 3 wouldn’t be where it is today.”

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Apple Store promoting upcoming iTunes Festival w/ pins and wristbands, music-related events

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After bringing the iTunes Festival to the US earlier this year at Austin SXSW, Apple’s annual music event in London kicking off next week has been the focus of much of the company’s attention recently. Earlier this week, Apple’s newly acquired Beats Music began promoting the iTunes Festival with a contest within the app to attend the festival.

Apple will also use its retail stores to further promote the event with iTunes Festival Pins to be worn by retail employees to “spark conversation about the event,” according to an internal document obtained by 9to5Mac. Retail employees will also receive iTunes Festival wristbands and redemption codes for music. Select Apple Stores will also host “music-related events” with local artists, according to the document. Read more

Apple Stores unify employee shirts as major customer service enhancements planned

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Apple is taking a small-step to unifying the attire of its U.S.-based Apple Store employees this upcoming week: the black shirts worn by Apple Store Business Team members for several years will be going into retirement, and all Apple Store employees will begin wearing the same, classic blue t-shirts as normally seen on the store sales floors. Is this a move from the handbook of Angela Ahrendts’ fashion background? Probably not. Sources say that the move happened in Europe a few months ago and the change-up is simply to unify the Apple Store teams as one. The business team will continue to exist in its current form (for now), so this is mostly just a visual change.

In other news, multiple sources also say that Apple is planning some significant operational changes within its stores to improve customer experience…

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Apple announces August 2nd opening of Wuxi, China retail store

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Apple has officially announced plans to open its new Wuxi, China retail store on August 2nd, according to a listing on the company’s website.

The new establishment, which will be the 12th official Apple retail store in the country, will be located in the Center 66 Mall (pictured above). However, there don’t seem to be any photos of Apple’s new space available just yet, as the company still undoubtedly has some work to do before it’s ready for the public eye.

The Wuxi store, like the Chongqing store opening next week, is a continuation of Apple’s plan to increase its presence in China over the course of 2014 and 2015 under the guidance of new VP of Retail Angela Ahrednts.

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New iTunes Pass credit refill service now available in United States and several other countries

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Yesterday Apple rolled out its new iTunes Pass service to Japan, allowing users to use a Passbook card to add credit to an iTunes account from an Apple Retail Store. Starting today, the offer is also available in the United States and Australia. Users in Canada, Germany, and the UK are also reporting seeing the feature, though it’s not officially listed on Apple’s website for those countries just yet.

To take advantage of this new program, you need to use the iTunes Store app on an iOS device to obtain an iTunes Pass. You can get one of these by tapping the “Redeem” button at the bottom of the home page within the app. To use the card, you can visit an Apple Retail Store and ask a specialist to help you add credit to your account. The specialist can then scan the barcode on the Passbook card to immediately add credit to your account.

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Apple begins hiring for another 3 new retail stores in China

Photo: mshcdn.com

Photo: mshcdn.com

We previously reported that Apple had new retail stores planned for the Chongqing region as well as upcoming locations for Shenyang and Central Hangzhou coming later this year. Today three more stores in China get added to the mix with a job listing on the company’s website hiring for positions in Tianjin, Wuxi, and Zhengzhou in addition to the three stores mentioned above that we already knew about (via Bloomberg).  Read more