Some Genius Bars are being repurposed for the holidays, but other changes loom

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As they’ve done in years’ past, some Apple retail stores this holiday season will repurpose the Genius Bar for additional product space, pick-ups, or other uses as Apple attempts to make the shopping experience for customers as smooth as possible, 9to5Mac has learned.

The repurposing for the holidays will only arrive in some stores depending on needs and traffic, with some stores scheduled to use the Genius Bar area to complete express sales and hold products scheduled for pick-up. Other changes, however, will go beyond the holidays as the stores under new retail chief Angela Ahrendts evolve to better deal with increased foot traffic. Read more

Apple retail gift cards arrive in third-party stores for the holidays, in-store Beats repairs begin tomorrow

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Apple is making a big push with gift cards for the holidays with the most notable change being gift cards for its retail stores arriving through third-party retailers, according to sources. The company already sold iTunes/App Store gift certificates through a number of retail parters, but it has just recently started selling its Apple Store gift cards outside its own channels as well. Apple Retail will also make changes to repair procedures tomorrow including the introduction of in-store repairs for Beats products.  Read more

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

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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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iPhone 5 devices with sleep button issue may qualify for an extra $80 trade-in credit at Apple Retail locations

iPhone 5 - Slate/Silver
Late Friday afternoon Apple issued a press release stating that some iPhone 5 devices manufactured through March 2013 may have a defect that causes the sleep/wake button to fail. At that time, Apple positioned mail-in repairs as the only remedy for this issue, but we have learned today that there is another option that may allow affected customers to upgrade to an iPhone 5c/5s for free…

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How Apple will handle replacements for iPhone 5s units with battery problems

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Earlier this week, Apple confirmed that some iPhone 5s units are affected by battery-life issues due to a manufacturing glitch. Apple said that customers with affected units would be contacted to receive a replacement device. Now, sources have shared some details into how exactly that process will work. Besides what is listed in the quote from Apple’s PR department, Apple has told AppleCare representatives that the issue can cause “shortened battery life, longer charge times, or a battery that will no longer charge…”

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AppleCare+ launch in UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, & Switzerland ‘imminent’

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In line with a rumor from earlier this week, we’ve heard from our sources that AppleCare+ is indeed set to soon launch in Europe. AppleCare+ is Apple’s premium support service, and it provides customers with technical support for both the iPhone and iPad for two years from the original purchase date. AppleCare+ also provides support for up to two instances of accidental damage.

We understand that the launch is “imminent,” but no formal launch date has been announced internally. Apple, this week, has begun training its AppleCare support and Apple Store Genius Bar employees on the upcoming launch of the support initiative. At first, the European launch will occur in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, and Switzerland…

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Apple confirms Apple Store iPhone trade-in program has launched today

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Photo from trade-in program training

In line with our reports from earlier this week, Apple has announced that its Apple Store iPhone trade-in-program has launched today. The confirmation comes by way of comment to CNBC.

The trade-in-program is officially called the “iPhone Reuse and Recycling Program” and it is available in Apple Stores across the United States. It is powered in-part by BrightStar…

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Apple opens graphics card replacement program for some mid-2011 iMacs

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Apple has opened up one of its rare replacement programs for the graphics card in some mid-2011 iMac configurations, according to a notice issued to Apple Support employees. The iMac in question is the model released in May 2011 with Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt ports. This iMac was sold between that month and October 2012 when Apple launched thinner models with new internals. Apple says that AMD Radeon HD 6970M cards (both 1GB and 2GB configurations) in select versions of these 2011 iMacs could fail:

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Weekend Roundup: Apple vs Samsung, new Genius Bar, Black Friday iPad trends, Will.i.am’s new iPhone accessory, more

According to a report from IBM tracking shopping trends for Thanksgiving and Black Friday (via Fortune), Apple devices dominated among mobile devices for online buying with 10 percent of shopping online done from an iPad. The device also dominated for online purchases originating from tablets, accounting for 88.3-percent of traffic. The iPhone came in at 8.7-percent of traffic for online purchases, while Android devices combined came in at just 5.5-percent.

Apple appears to be testing a new “floating” Genius Bar design in a couple of retail stores. We originally saw images of the new communal Genius Bar configuration in July. However, today, TheDailyCity reported Apple is now testing the design in at least two stores: one in Orlando at Mall at Millenia and another in a Philadelphia Apple Store. Apple will apparently roll out the design to its Florida Mall store. Apple appears to like the new design, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see it in more Apple Stores in the near future.

Apple and Samsung are now both seeking to extend their patent infringement claims in the California-based lawsuit filed in August. Samsung asked the courts in a filing last week to add the iPad mini and new iPod touch to the case after recently adding the iPhone 5. Now, FossPatents reported that Apple, as of Black Friday, sought to add six new Samsung products, including: Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy Tab 8.9 Wi-Fi, Galaxy Tab 10.1, Samsung Rugby Pro, and the Galaxy S III Mini. The case isn’t scheduled to go to trial until March 2014.

Will.i.am of Black Eye Peas fame is about to launch a new accessory for iPhone this week that is said to turn the device’s existing 8-megapixel camera into a 14-megapixel camera. The Telegraph (via MacRumors) spoke with Will.i.am who described the product called “i.am+:

 

‘We have our own sensor and a better flash. You dock you phone into our device and it turns you smartphone into a genius-phone. We take over the camera.’… The camera will be the first of a series of digital products that bear his name – to support them, he has invested in what he calls ‘digital real estate’ online. He now owns the domain http://www.i.am. Users of i.am+ accessories will be given individual online profiles, for example http://www.i.am/Will.

Apple switched battery suppliers for iPad and MacBooks from Samsung SDI to Amperex Technology Limited and Tianjin Lishen Battery, according to a report from China Business News (via TechCrunch). Recent reports about processor price hikes, and Samsung dropping out as an Apple display supplier, were later denied by the company, so we’ll wait for official word regarding the batteries.

The majority of iPad mini displays are coming from LG, according to a report from Digitimes. We already knew LG Display, AU Optronics, and Samsung are supplying display components for the device, but the sometimes-unreliable Digitimes claimed this weekend that the majority of displays are coming from LG—not AUO.

NPD: Genius Bar, stellar tech support keep Apple product owners coming back for more

Ah, the Genius Bar: It’s (mostly) free, it’s accessible, and nine out of 10 Apple product owners love it.

The latest research from NPD Group indicates folks are willing to buy multiple Apple devices primarily due to their pleasant experience at the Genius Bar. A whopping 90 percent, in fact, said they were “extremely or very satisfied” following their experience. The approval rate is primarily attributed to 88 percent of those Genius Bar consumers receiving complimentary service.

According to NPD Group’s Tech Services Study:

That service left almost all of the 40 percent of Apple owners who took their Apple devices to the Genius Bar very happy. Nearly 90 percent of consumers who used Apple’s tech service said they were extremely or very satisfied. In contrast, top 2 box satisfaction among all consumer service interactions was 78 percent. A major part of their satisfaction came from the fact that only a small percentage actually paid for their service. According to the report, 88 percent of Genius Bar consumers said their service was free compared to 78 percent of all consumers.

The majority of the support was for troubleshooting (37 percent), followed by product repair (28 percent), how-to support (18 percent), software installation/upgrade (11 percent), and product installation/set-up (7 percent).

Apple product consumers also approve the retail giant’s tech support offerings. Sixty percent of consumers claimed they were “somewhat or much more likely” to make another purchase following their experience, while another 31 percent admitted they had a “much more positive view” of the Cupertino, Calif.-based company after their service. However, as the study noted, “physical presence is key.” Fifty-three percent of consumers were extremely satisfied with in-store encounters versus other types of interactions, but 45 percent of younger consumers still preferred virtual communications.

These statistics are interesting, especially considering yesterday’s report from IFOAppleStore. It claimed then-COO Tim Cook and current CFO Peter Oppenheimer pushed former Apple Senior Vice President of Retail Ron Johnson toward revenues over customer satisfaction when then-CEO Steve Jobs was on medical leave in 2009. Moreover, Apple has maintained new policies —despite wide-spread criticism over recent retail layoffs— that reflect budget cuts with an emphasis on revenue. With this outlook, it surely won’t be long until tech support experiences start falling by the wayside.

NPD gathered responses from over 2,000 adults via an online survey in May 2012.

More stats are available in the press release below. 

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SoHo NY Apple Store to reopen July 14

Apple just announced it will reopen its SoHo store in Manhattan on July 14 at 10 a.m. EST.

The Apple Store, SoHo, is completely redesigned and better than ever. There are more than twice as many products available for you to try. A new state-of-the-art theater with extra seating is the perfect place to enjoy events and workshops. We’ve added New York’s first Briefing Room, where you can get to know our Business Team. Even the Genius Bar is bigger, so it’s easier than ever to get an appointment.

The first 3, 000 customers win free commemorative t-shirts.

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