Apple’s annual Back to School promotion likely kicking off at end of June

Retro Apple Store Back to School display

Retro Apple Store Back to School display

Apple could be planning to launch its annual Back to School sales promotion within the next two weeks. Apple Stores, according to several employees, will be changing the front of store glass window displays overnight on June 30th. This is the usual timeframe in which Apple launches a promotion to boost Mac, iPad, and iPhone sales in anticipation of the new school year in the fall.

Last year, the Back to School promotion consisted of $100 App Store gift cards for Mac purchases and $50 cards for iPad and iPhone purchases by students with their Student IDs. Of course, this June 30th window change could be connected to another promotion or a new product, but based on the timing, the Back to School program being in the wings seems most likely.

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Apple says some European iPhone USB adapters ‘may pose a safety risk’, announces free replacement program

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 09.33.50Apple has today announced a replacement program for some European iPhone USB adapters. The company says that it has identified that some USB adapters bundled with iPhones (as well as sold separately) may overheat and ‘pose a safety risk’. The adapter shipped with European models of the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s from October 2009 to September 2012.

Affected adapters feature the Model ‘A1300′ designation, found on the bottom of the unit as pictured above. Apple will replace the power adapters for free at its dedicated replacement portal website. A full country list is below.

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Omotesando, Tokyo Apple Store opens with large crowds, Angela Ahrendts in attendance

Apple’s first Tokyo Apple Store opening since 2005 occurred today in the city of Omotesando. The new store features two floors and a fully glass exterior. Apple published a video showing preparations for the store earlier this week. As she promised in a memo to employees earlier today, Angela Ahrendts is on hand for the opening:

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Angela Ahrendts’ first memo to Apple Retail employees: ‘together we will continue to enrich lives and communities’

Burberry Group Plc CEO Angela Ahrendts At The London Stock Exchange

After being on the job for approximately a month and a half, new Apple Senior VP of Retail and Online Stores Angela Ahrendts has sent her first memo to Apple Retail employees. In the memo, Ahrendts discusses Apple’s culture, her visits to stores thus far, and her plans for the future.

“I have spent most of my time getting to know and understand the many functions and teams in Cupertino, along with our short and long term initiatives. I was thrilled to meet many of you at stores in San Francisco and London this month, and I’m looking forward to Tokyo and the Omotesando opening,” Ahrendts said. “Every couple of weeks, we will be visiting stores across the world to see and learn what we do best and hear your thoughts about opportunities ahead,” she added.

We previously profiled Ahrendts plans for transforming Apple retail with a new end-to-end sales experience, mobile payment initiatives, and an increased emphasis on the Chinese consumer. Today’s memo from Ahrendts to employees reiterates many of these points… Read more

A year after being announced, you can now get a Mac Pro within 24 hours

Mac Pro 24 hours

While you still may not be able to walk in to an Apple Store and expect to walk out with a 2013 Mac Pro, the $3,000 and $4,000 base models of Apple’s professional desktop are shipping within 24 hours of ordering for the first time since its launch in late December last year. This includes shipping to Apple Retail Store locations for pickup. Apple, of course, previewed the latest Mac Pro model at WWDC 2013, exactly one year from yesterday, but it only promised then that it would begin shipping later that year. Availability has since proven to be a challenge for the ‘assembled-in-USA’ Mac line… Read more

Impressive new Omotesando Apple Store Tokyo set to open on June 13th

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Last month we showed you the new Apple Store in Portland as well as to soon-to-open location in Madrid, and now photos of a new, multi-level glass Apple Store are starting to surface from Japan. The gigantic retail location is located on the Omotesando avenue alongside several other flagship retailers and is set to open to the public on Friday, June 13th, as invitations to attend the day one experience have already been sent out. More photos below… Read more

Apple looks to boost iPhone sales in stores with new pre-paid & month-to-month plans

New iPhone on sale

Apple is preparing to enhance its Apple Store-based iPhone sales operations in the United States around pre-paid and month-to-month plans in order boost sales, according to a source briefed on the upcoming initiatives. For the first time in U.S. Apple Stores, customers will be able to purchase an iPhone at full-price and then connect the phone to a pre-paid plan or a month-to-month plan within the store. Previously, iPhone customers could only buy full-priced iPhones as unlocked devices then connect the devices to pre-paid plans or month-to-month plans via a previously purchased SIM-card or through a carrier store…

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iOS 8: Lock screen app shortcuts, iPhoto changes, & App Store reviews

Update: Explanation of lock screen apps after the break…

Since Apple previewed iOS 8 yesterday during the keynote at WWDC, we’ve been continually trying out the new iPhone and iPad software to get familiar with the changes coming to users this fall. First up is a new way for apps to be promoted on the iPhone using subtle location-based prompts. Similar to how the lock screen features an icon and a swipe up gesture from the lower right corner of the display to quickly access the Camera app, several users are reporting a variety of apps are being featured on the lower left corner prompted by being near a relevant venue.

For instance, in the screen shot displayed above on the left, the user is visiting an Apple Store and an App Store icon appears in the lower left corner. Swiping up from the bottom acts as a shortcut to quickly access the Apple Store app within the App Store. Once installed, the Apple Store app icon then appears on the lock screen when visiting the retailer. While it’s not certain which specific perimeters must be met for this functionality to work, the commonality between other supported App Store apps including Starbucks and ShopSavvy is location. Read more

Angela Ahrendts’ plan for the future of Apple Retail: China emphasis, mobile payments, revamped experience

Ahrendts succeeds Jobs, Johnson, and Browett (Graphic by Michael Steeber)

When Ron Johnson finalized his decision to move from leading Apple’s retail strategy to become the Chief Executive Officer of J.C. Penney, the executive jumped in his car to drive to Steve Jobs’ home and notify the Apple co-founder in his living room of the decision. During his short car ride to Jobs’ Palo Alto home in the summer of 2011, Johnson likely thought about how he would explain his choice. But what Johnson likely did not imagine is that it would take nearly three years for Apple to find a true new leader for the stores the duo created.

In one of current Apple CEO Tim Cook’s first major missteps, the long-time operations maestro hired John Browett, formerly of Dixons, to run retail. Browett’s hire was immediately met with skepticism from Apple customers and retail employees, but Cook defended the hire and called the British executive the “best [choice] by far” to run Apple’s retail division. In the six months that he ran retail, Browett cut back on employee hours, initiated layoffs, and fell out culturally with the rest of the Apple executive team.

John Browett visiting Apple Store

Alongside Scott Forstall, Browett was ejected from the Cupertino-based company, leaving Tim Cook and head-hunting firm Egon Zehnder, again, with the tall task of finding a suitable replacement for Ron Johnson. As the man who ran Dixons, the United Kingdom equivalent to Best Buy, Browett was in many ways built in the image of Johnson. Johnson ran Apple Retail for nearly a decade, and before that he was an executive at both Target and Mervyns. But unlike Browett, Johnson fit into Apple’s culture and was close with both Jobs and Cook throughout his tenure.

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13th anniversary of first Apple Store: risky gamble to most profitable retail space in the world

Today marks the 13th anniversary of Apple’s retail stores, the first ever store having opened at 10am on 19th May 2001 at Tysons Corner Center in McLean, Virginia. The video above shows Steve Jobs giving a preview of the store six days before it opened, and below the fold you can see an animated GIF of the growth of the U.S. stores since then.

Amazing as it seems today, the move was considered at the time to be a risky gamble, with critics arguing that they couldn’t possibly make money. Businessweek ran a story entitled Sorry Steve, Here’s Why Apple Stores Won’t Work and TheStreet.com agreed in a piece headlined Apple’s Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel …  Read more

Apple Store employees switching from iPod touch to iPhone 5s for EasyPay POS system

Apple-EasyPay-iPhone5s-01

Apple is in the process of updating the iPod touch units used by Apple Store employees as a mobile point-of-sale system to the iPhone 5s, according to sources familiar with the roll out. 

Apple first started using its iPod touch as an “EasyPay” system for employees in its retail stores back in 2009 and currently uses 4th gen iPod touch or previous models for staff. It uses a point-of-sale attachment for the iPod touch that adds a magnetic stripe reader, barcode scanning functionality, and more. It’s not clear the exact motivation behind Apple’s move to the iPhone after long using the iPod touch, but the device does provide a few advantages.  Read more