Flurry of new Apple Stores on the way in Japan, France, China, Brazil & Italy

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Tokyo skyline: vacationadvice101.com

Bloomberg is reporting that Apple is planning its first new store in Tokyo since 2005.

Apple plans to open a store in Tokyo’s upscale Omotesando shopping district as early as March, according to a person familiar with the plans.

Construction is scheduled to be completed by February, the person said, asking not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak for Apple.

Tokyo is noted for its high land values. Bloomberg estimating the cost of the land at around $164M with the finished store expected to be worth a staggering $256M …  Read more

Unofficial Apple ‘union’ leader leaves the company tomorrow

Photo: Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Photo: Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Cory Moll, an Apple retail employee who founded an unofficial union for Apple Store staff, is leaving the company tomorrow, having apparently resigned.

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Moll founded the ‘Apple Workers Union’ as a Facebook page and now-defunct website, describing it as “a movement of empowerment to bring change and improvement of working conditions to Apple’s retail stores” in response to what some employees felt to be low pay and limited opportunity for advancement.

Moll tweeted earlier today  that tomorrow would be his final day. In an email to 9to5Mac and others, he said: Read more

Apple tripling franchise stores in India, but Apple Stores still impossible

The Economic Times reported that Apple plans to triple the number of Apple-exclusive franchise stores in India from 65 to 200 by 2015, but the country still won’t see any official Apple Stores.

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Government regulations mean that branded stores must source 30 percent of their stock from Indian companies, something Apple’s yet unable to do. It instead sells via franchisees who operate under their own brands, though generally emulating the look and feel of official stores to some degree … Read more

Apple will exchange third-gen iPads purchased within the past 30 days for a shiny new fourth-gen

Image via The Verge

For those who purchased the third-generation iPad recently, and found themselves dumbfounded when the fourth-generation iPad was announced this afternoon, we have good news: CNET reported that local Apple Stores might replace a third-generation iPads with the new fourth-generation if it was purchased within the last 30 days. It is up to local Apple Stores to make the call if a customer can exchange or not. When speaking to a manager of an Apple Store, it was explained that the policy is on a store-to-store basis.

The manager at the Stockton Street store in San Francisco explained that “this specific store” would allow purchasers of the third-generation iPad to exchange their device for the fourth-generation iPad if purchased within the last 30 days. She emphasized that, unless the recently-purchased iPad showed serious signs of wear-and-tear, the usual 14-day return policy would be waived.

“And what about other stores?” You’ll have to call and find out. She explained, “We can’t speak to other stores’ policies — this is something our store has decided to do.”

The fourth-generation iPad, starting at $499, offers faster performance than the third-generation with a dual-core A6X processor and quad-core graphics. It also has a 5-megapixel iSight camera, expanded LTE chipset, front-facing camera with FaceTime and 720p video capture, ultrafast two-times Wi-Fi, and Lightening connector.

Call your local Apple Store to check—usually stores are pretty flexible. Let us know how it goes.

Additional specs below:

Apple Store coming to Amsterdam [VIDEO]

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Here is one more reason to visit Amsterdam—the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands: Apple is busy putting the finishing touches on a new retail store. According to Dutch-language website iPhoneclub.nl, the rumored Leidseplein store is now a reality as the company raised huge orange storefront stickers adorned with three Apple logos – a subtle hint at the three crosses on top of each other from the Coat of Arms of Amsterdam. The customary stickers read:

Apple Store, Amsterdam. Opening soon.

While employees speculate the store could open this coming Saturday, Feb. 18, that may not be feasible due to scaffoldings and plastic sheets inside (additional snaps at the source link). Moreover, a recent job ad in the Metro newspaper indicates Apple has only recently begun hiring store staff, so Feb. 18 could be the date when employee training starts (as the website noted itself, employees have a mandatory day off on Saturday)…

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Former Apple Retail head Ron Johnson talks remaking JC Penney using Apple experience

Ron Johnson, Apple’s former head of retail, pioneered the concept of the Apple Retail Stores and the Genius Bar a decade ago. As you know, he is also yet another established Cupertino executive to use experience at Apple and tap his peers in an effort to transform an industry and rethink a company. Another one: The iPod Godfather Tony Fadell whose intelligent thermostat made quite a stir among the technophiles. Not everyone succeeds, as evident in the case of former Apple hardware chief Jon Rubinstein, who just left Hewlett-Packard following a series of missteps with webOS and Palm.

Due to take over CEO post at the American mid-range department store chain on Feb. 1, Johnson on Wednesday shed more light on a new strategy for an ailing JC Penney, and boy, does it draw from everything he learned during the Apple gig. He conveniently kicked off his presentation with a slide adorned by an Apple logo, which was immediately followed by another “What Were You Thinking?” slide.

Johnson then launched into an appraisal of Apple, likening the iPhone maker to a prime model of lasting brand experiences. Johnson, who left Target for Apple in 2000, recalled that at the time: “There wasn’t one positive believer who thought an Apple retail store could work.”  He then put up a slide depicting the Grand Central outlet, a massive new Apple store built inside New York City’s landmark Grand Central Terminal.

Reiterating how he built Apple Stores on experiences, not commissions, the executive noted:

It’s not about buying. It’s about enriching someone’s life. [...] The magic of the store that makes everyone want to come is all the stuff you get beyond the transaction, ’cause at Apple, the relationship doesn’t end when you buy. That’s where it begins. And we’re going to do that at JC Penney.

A few other interesting highlights are below:
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