Apple and Disney Stores upgrading iBeacons and NFC scanners ahead of iPhone 6 launch

iPhone 6

Apple and longtime partner Disney this week are bolstering their stores with upgraded versions of iBeacon sensors and NFC readers, according to sources. Apple Stores have had iBeacons stationed throughout showroom floors for several months as a way to pinpoint exactly where a customer is within the store. This allows Apple to better serve customers by providing relevant sales information to their iPhones and iPads while in the store. The upgrades happening this week within Apple Stores place several new Gimbal Series 20 Proximity Beacons across stores to make location tracking within the store even more accurate.

In addition to providing relevant information for the Apple Store app, iBeacons can be useful for NFC mobile payment technologies as a form of authentication. If Apple knows where a customer is in the store to a precise degree, it can ensure that is it wirelessly connecting to the correct iPhone for mobile payments. As has been widely reported, the new iPhone 6 and upcoming Apple wearable device will include new wireless sensors (including a near field communication chipset) to conduct mobile payments with credit cards stored in an upgraded Passbook application.

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Apple Store app redesigned, gains upcoming events feature, synchronized shopping

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Ahead of its major media event next week, Apple has issued a significant update to its Apple Store shopping iOS app. The first addition is a complete redesign for the iPhone and iPod touch application’s interface. The new design is more in-line with the recently released iPad variant. Speaking of the iPad version, the tablet-optimized layout is now a universal bundle (single download) with the iPhone/iPod touch version, and it has also gained support for making Apple Store One to One reservations. The app also has a new Stores section to search for upcoming events at local Apple Stores. There is also a new icon. Perhaps the most significant new feature is support for synchronizing shopping between iOS devices and desktop computers. For example, you can start shopping on your Mac and continue via the app on your iPhone. Apple (rightfully so) doesn’t want to a miss a single iPhone 6 or iWatch/iBand sale.

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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

iTunes Festival London

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

That Apple Store in the United Arab Emirates could be the world’s largest

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Middle East luxury lifestyle magazine Edgar claims “insider knowledge” that the planned Apple Store in the United Arab Emirates will be the largest in the world, and will be located in a huge shopping mall in Dubai.

US-based tech giant Apple will open its biggest store in the world at Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates, EDGAR can exclusively reveal [...] Our undisclosed source said that the store – which will be the biggest Apple has ever built – was originally planned to replace the current cinema complex …

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Hiring underway for first Apple Store(s) in the oil-rich nations of the Middle East

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If you look at map of Apple Store locations around the world, there’s one very obvious wealthy area of the world without a single store: the oil-rich nations of the Middle East. This now looks set to change, as ifoAppleStore spotted Apple job listings for the United Arab Emirates for the complete range of retail store positions.

The job listings appeared yesterday, and include the full range of store positions from Store and Market Leader, Manager, Expert, Creative and Specialist. The listings also include the Apple Store Leader Program, a 24-month development program for those who have just graduated from higher education …

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Apple Stores to start offering iPhones via carrier financing on Aug. 20th

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A significant number of Apple Stores in the United States will likely begin offering iPhone sales via the latest carrier financing programs later this month, according to several sources. We previously detailed that Apple Stores will soon offer iPhones on AT&T Next, Verizon Edge, and the T-Mobile Jump plans, and now we’ve learned some new information on the matter. We’re told that Apple is tentatively planning to begin rolling out the programs on Wednesday, August 20th as a pilot.

Of course, this could slip back a few days as this new program’s existence has not even been officially confirmed by Apple.  We’ve also been sent a couple of slides from internal Apple employee training materials showcasing what exact plans will be offered. The slide above details the differences between the plans, and the photo below compares the perks of each program. Also, it does not appear that Sprint’s latest financing offerings will be in the mix for Apple Stores anytime in the near future. Will you buy your iPhone 6 at the Apple Store via carrier financing? Tim Cook certainly thinks you should.

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Apple Store iPhone 5s screen replacements coming to Europe next week

Earlier this week, Apple started replacing iPhone 5s glass screens in Apple Stores for the first time. But the catch is that the service is only available in the United States and Canada. That will change, though, next week. Sources say that the program will expand across Apple’s official retail locations in Europe as soon as Monday, August 11th. The pricing for the screen replacements will likely come in around the equivalent of $150. iPhone 5c screen replacements started across Apple’s locations earlier this year.

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Apple’s third Dutch store opening in The Hague on Saturday

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IfoAppleStore drew our attention to the fact that Apple is opening its third Dutch retail store on Saturday, in Den Haag (The Hague). Apple’s existing stores in the Netherlands are in Amsterdam and Haarlem.

While Amsterdam is the official capital of the Netherlands, Den Haag is where the country’s government is based, being home to its parliament and Supreme Court. The Hague is best known for the International Criminal Court, where war crimes and crimes against humanity are heard …  Read more

Angela Ahrendts continues debut tour with employee Q&A, New York City Apple Store visits

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New Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores Angela Ahrendts is continuing her Apple debut tour this week. The former Burberry Chief Executive Officer today toured through Apple’s many stores in the New York City area and she also held a question-and-answer session with select Apple Retail Store managers earlier this week week. Ahrendts today sent a memo with a transcript of some of the Q&A points to all retail employees, and a full copy of that transcript, sent in by a source, is below:

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Apple Stores to finally begin iPhone 5s display replacements on August 4th

iPhone screen

Apple will finally begin offering iPhone 5s screen replacements in its official U.S. and Canada retail stores in the coming days, according to several sources. Apple Store Genius Bars are said to have begun taking delivery of large quantities of iPhone 5s screens for the repair program. The crucial service’s debut is currently scheduled for Monday, August 4th. This upcoming rollout will mark an official launch as a few stores in the U.S. have piloted iPhone 5s screen repairs over the past several months. Apple officially rolled out iPhone 5c screen repairs in January, and it began replacing other iPhone 5c and 5s parts late in 2013. The screen replacements will cost approximately $150 per repair, and this is more affordable than the $269 price of completely replacing a broken iPhone 5s.

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The ridiculously simple con that allowed a fraudster to take Apple for $309k

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You wouldn’t think it would be easy to use a debit card on a closed account to scam an Apple Store out of around $7200’s worth of kit, but that’s what a 24-year-old fraudster is alleged to have done not just once but a total of 42 times – netting a total haul worth $309,768.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that the East Tampa resident Sharron Parrish used an absurdly simple method to persuade Apple Store staff to override payment terminals after his transactions were declined …  Read more