Apple Store revamp for Apple Watch revealed: ‘magical’ display tables, demo loops, sales process

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While the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition has been receiving a lot of attention due to its premium pricing and aesthetic, Apple will sell far more of the lower-priced Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport models, and has created a different customer journey for those customers, according to sources briefed on the plans. Most of the sales process will be familiar to buyers of other products from the Apple Store, but a number of steps are different, including the process of visiting a “magical” display case, trying on different models, playing with demo units, considering Apple Watch accessories, and actually finalizing the purchase. Below, we detail the entire customer experience for the upcoming Apple Watch launch…

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Apple Watch launch retail stock to be limited for many models, reservations favored

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If you want to buy the Apple Watch model of your choice at an Apple Store at launch, you should consider pre-ordering online or through an Apple Store reservation, sources have told 9to5Mac. Due in part to the number of different models, Apple Watch inventory at many Apple Stores in the United States will be heavily constrained at launch, with priority given to reservations, meaning that Apple Watch availability for random walk-in purchases on day one will be noticeably tight.

As one source at a flagship Apple Store said, “we’re told to treat launch day as if there will be no walk-in stock.” That doesn’t necessarily mean there will be absolutely zero Apple Watch units to buy at launch if you don’t have a reservation, just that the specific Apple Watch variant a person wants will be far harder to come by at launch than some previous iPhone models.

Of course, inventory will vary depending on the store’s location, including state and country, with China expected to have larger stock allocations. But several sources across the United States are reporting a similar emphasis on the majority of stock being available solely for reservations at launch. Besides the U.S. and China, the Watch will be available in Canada, France, Japan, Germany, and the U.K. at launch.

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Apple thanks its employees for making “amazing moments” this year with a customized Incase backpack

Near the end of each year Apple thanks its employees for their hard work with a nice souvenir. This year some employees are being given a black Incase backpack featuring a bright white Apple logo.

At least one employee has already put the gift up on eBay with a starting bid of $49.99 and a Buy It Now of $99.99. From the images we’ve received, it appears that the bag is a customized version of the Incase Staple Backpack. In past years, Apple employees have received blankets, sweatshirts, and water bottles.

The bags were accompanied by this letter:

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Looks like no Black Friday deals in European Apple Stores – just (RED) donations on Cyber Monday

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While Apple Store customers in the U.S. can look forward to gift cards on selected purchases on Black Friday, it seems European customers may be missing out. Apple last year offered its European customers discounted pricing rather than gift cards, but rumors – including from the usually reliable MacG – say that there will be neither cards nor discounts this year …  Read more

Apple to grow retail stores in China from 15 to 40 within two years, says Cook

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Tim Cook noted during Monday’s earnings call that Apple was “investing like crazy” in China, but he took the opportunity of his current visit to the country to put a specific number on the company’s retail expansion plans: it will open 25 new Apple Stores in Greater China within the next two years. Greater China includes both Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Speaking to local media, Cook also said that China would in time become Apple’s biggest market, reports the WSJ …  Read more

Apple iPhone 6 unboxing and first impressions (Video)

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Today we’re taking a look at Apple’s iPhone 6. Anxious fans queued up at Apple Stores across the world to get their hands on the latest and greatest from Cupertino. Apple has bumped up the display size to 4.7-inches on the iPhone 6 and also added a 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus model for phablet fans. For a closer look, be sure to check out our first impressions video

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Apple to offer in-store pickup option for iPhone 6 preorders

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Pre-orders for the iPhone 6 will start at 12:01 a.m. PDT and will be available to purchase in Apple Stores on Sept. 19th, 2014, but what isn’t widely known is that it looks like Apple is kicking off Personal Pickup availability starting with preorders as well. This means that you’ll be able to preorder an iPhone 6 and select a store in your area and pick it up on launch day….

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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 Store visuals revamped with inspiration from recent TV campaigns

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IFO Apple Store reports that Apple is revamping its back-lit in-store photo panels, replacing its signature white-background product shots with visuals inspired by its recent advertising. Out are clean, sterile close-ups of the products, and in are colorful visuals showing what people are doing with the products.

The new graphics were photographed like magazine ads, showing the iPad/iPhone being used in actual situations, complete with their surrounding people and places. Their colors, tone and brightness is much richer and darker than the previous graphics …

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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