Sprint offers $100 gift card with purchase of iPhone 4S, Apple offers $100 store credit in return

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Date: Tuesday, August 14th, 2012, 14:27
Category: iPhone, News, retail

Let the incentives roll.

Per Business Insider, wireless carrier Sprint is now giving a $100 pre-paid gift card to new iPhone 4S buyers and Apple will be matching the deal by offering an Apple Store credit for the same amount.

The new incentive, the second in as many weeks from Sprint, comes ahead of an expected Sept. 12 launch of the next-generation iPhone and has prompted> Apple to make good on its promise to match iPhone pricing from major resellers, Business Insider has learned.

Sprint last week slashed the price of Apple’s iPhone 4S to US$149 not including a US$36 activation fee waiver, a move followed by other sellers including Target and Best Buy. Apple subsequently instructed its stores to match the discount prices being offered by the major retailers, limited to US$49 for the iPhone 4 and US$149 for the iPhone 4S.

With the new US$100 American Express pre-paid card, US$149 discount, activation fee waiver and free shipping, Sprint has effectively whittled down the cost of buying an iPhone 4S to US$50. There are stipulations, however, as the added gift card bonus is online only and lasts until Aug. 26. It is unclear if Apple will continue to offer the store credits after Sprint’s sale ends.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

GameStop hopes to stop financial slide, looks to sell refurbished iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, August 14th, 2012, 06:09
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, retail

Ok, you might not walk into GameStop that often unless you’re a gamer or parent of a gamer.

This might change in the future, as the struggling retailer has announced plans to embrace the iOS as a gaming platform. Per SFGate, the company began a program last fall of buying up used iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches from consumers, then sending them to a “Refurbishment Operations Center” in Texas where the devices are cleaned up and repaired. Once they’re in nice working order, the devices are returned to GameStop stores where they’re sold at a decent markup. The items are also being sold on GameStop’s web site.

Analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities thinks that the Apple refurb business could be a gold mine for GameStop. Even if GameStop resells just 5 percent of the 230 million Apple devices estimated to be in the hands of U.S. consumers, it could bring in about US$1 billion in new revenue in the next few years.

Pachter also thinks GameStop could make a killing by selling prepaid phone plans with those used iPhones, “since a lot of their customers are teenagers with money to spend but no credit to get a regular phone plan.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Target and Best Buy cut iPhone 4, 4S prices ahead of next-gen iPhone announcement

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Date: Monday, August 13th, 2012, 06:30
Category: iPhone, retail, Software

Following up on last week’s article about Apple’s lowering its iPhone 4 and 4S prices prior to the release of the next-gen iPhone, All Things D has pointed out that Target is now selling the 16GB versions of the AT&T and Verizon iPhone 4S for US$179 with contract, while Best Buy has dropped the price of the 8GB iPhone 4 for both carriers from US$99 to US$49.99.

The reductions come just days after it was reported that Apple retail stores were willing to match iPhone discounts offered by other authorized iPhone resellers.

Sprint was the first iPhone affiliate to provide incentives for consumers to consider purchasing an existing iPhone amid rumors of new models when it cut the price of its 16GB iPhone 4S models to US$149 while waiving activation fees for the handset.

The sales are designed to buoy sales of existing iPhones in the weeks leading up to Apple’s September 12th media event, which is all but certain to deliver the first official details on the sixth-generation iPhone (or so-called iPhone 5) ahead of its launch later that month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple puts third-gen iPad on sale, offers $50 off for refurbished units

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Date: Wednesday, August 8th, 2012, 08:41
Category: iPad, News, retail

You can’t knock a discount and there’s some decent refurbished stuff out there…

Per MacNN, Apple has begun selling refurbished third-generation iPads for the first time, a check of the company’s online store shows. The discount is a flat US$50 for each model, regardless of capacity or 4G support; whereas a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad is knocked down to US$449 as a refurb, for instance, a 64GB 4G iPad only drops to US$779. Each unit includes a one-year warranty as well as a new battery and shell.

The availability of refurbished units tends to mark a later phase in an Apple product’s lifespan, since demand is no longer so intense that fresh units sell as quickly as they can be produced. Apple also tends to let a certain number of refurb units stockpile before putting them online, and often this stockpile can persist after a next-generation device is released. The first-generation iPad continued to be available as a refurb long after the iPad 2 debuted; currently Apple is still selling 32 and 64GB iPad 2s, even though only 16GB iPad 2s are being actively manufactured.

If you were waiting to snag a third-generation iPad, now might be the time and it’ll be interesting to see what’s around the corner.

Apple reduces shipping times for Retina Display MacBook Pro to under a week

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Date: Thursday, August 2nd, 2012, 07:17
Category: MacBook Pro, News, retail

You know that mucho-spiffy new MacBook Pro with the Retina Display you’ve been saving up for? Now it’ll get to you in a shorter time frame.

Per AppleInsider, the new 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is now advertised to ship in 5 to 7 business days from Apple’s online store.

Both the 2.3 gigahertz and 2.6 gigahertz standard configuration models now ship in a week or less when ordered directly from Apple. Previously, estimated shipping times were pegged at 2 to 3 weeks.

The shortened shipping times come as Apple has also expanded configuration options for the entry-level MacBook Pro with Retina display, allowing users to add 512- or 768-gigabyte solid-state drives to the base model with a 2.3-gigahertz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor.

Shipping times for the MacBook Pro with Retina display have readily improved since the next-generation notebook was unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Apple has called the new MacBook Pro, which borrows elements from the thin-and-light MacBook Air, “the most beautiful computer we have ever made.”

The standout feature of the new MacBook Pro is its 2,880-by-1,880-pixel Retina display that features 220 pixels-per-inch on the 15.4-inch screen. The new design also cuts glare by 75 percent by removing the glass cover found in previous models.

In addition to Apple’s own online store, the new MacBook Pro with Retina display is also available for purchase from authorized Apple resellers.

If you’ve ordered a Retina Display MacBook Pro and it’s en route, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Apple adds build-to-order options for low-end Retina Display MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, August 1st, 2012, 10:59
Category: MacBook Pro, News, retail

It never hurts to have options.

Per MacRumors, Apple’s base model MacBook Pro with Retina display can now be custom built with solid-state hard drives of 512 and 768 gigabytes.

The new build-to-order configurations first appeared in Apple’s online store on Wednesday. Users who select the low-end 2.3-gigahertz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor can have a 512-gigabyte flash storage drive for an additional US$500, or 768 gigabytes for an extra US$1,000.

In addition, users can also choose to upgrade the base model to a faster 2.6-gigahertz quad-core Intel Core i7 chip for an extra US$100. Previously, that chip was only available with a 512-gigabyte flash storage drive for US$600 more than the base price of US$2,199.

Users can also upgrade the processor to a 2.7-gigahertz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor for US$350. Build-to-order configurations also come with 16 gigabytes of 1600MHz DDR3L SDRAM for an extra US$200.

Shipping times for the new MacBook Pro with Retina display remain estimated at one to two weeks as Apple works to catch up with demand for its latest notebook computer.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display can also be found in standard configurations from third-party resellers. It is available with 8 or 16 gigabytes of RAM and a 256-gigabyte solid-state drive with the 2.3-gigahertz processor, while the 2.6- and 2.7-gigahertz configurations come with 512 gigabytes of storage.

Rumor: Apple to remove iPad purchase limits in immediate future

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Date: Thursday, June 7th, 2012, 07:32
Category: iPad, retail, Rumor

Yes, you too will be able to hoard iPads long after the zombie apocalypse…

Per 9to5 Mac, a leaked internal memo shows that Apple is finally dropping the long-existing iPad purchase quantity limit of two units per purchase.

The change goes into effect immediately at Apple’s Retail Stores worldwide (except in Hong Kong). The quantity limit is yet to be dropped on Apple’s official online store, but the change will appear on that digital storefront on June 11th, the date of Apple’s WWDC kickoff keynote. The removal timing likely implies absolutely nothing besides Apple possibly having enough iPad channel supply to remove a purchase limit.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Walmart offers discounted prices on iPhone 4, 4S units with AT&T contract

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Date: Friday, May 4th, 2012, 07:22
Category: iPhone, News, retail

If you were headed to Walmart anyway…

Per The Mac Observer, Walmart reduced the prices for the AT&T version of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S on Friday, leading to speculation that new versions of Apple’s combination iPod and smartphone are coming this spring.

The 8GB iPhone 4 was reduced from US$88 to US$34 with a two-year contract, and Cult of Mac learned that at least in one store the 16GB iPhone 4S price had dropped from US$188 to US$114. The Walmart website, however, lists the iPhone 4 at US$117 and out of stock, while tagging the iPhone 4S as “Store pricing may vary.”

If you see this deal in your neck of the woods, please let us know in the comments.

Analyst: Apple expected to grow store-within-a-store concept in Walmart, Target locations

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Date: Thursday, May 3rd, 2012, 05:15
Category: News, retail

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It never hurts to have your products on the shelves.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s retail presence is expected to grow within the U.S. over the next two years with store-within-a-store retail outlets set to expand at Target and Walmart.

Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray noted that while Apple currently has just 250 retail locations in the U.S., the company has the potential to reach many new customers by expanding its micro-store concept.

Currently, Walmart has over 3,800 locations in the U.S., and Target has 1,700 stores. Munster expects Walmart to be a significant partner for Apple in expanding the company’s presence, as Walmart has better rural distribution.

Apple is currently testing its store-within-a-store concept at two Target locations, and 23 more stores will be added before the end of the year.

In addition to Target, there is also one Apple store-within-a-store being tested at one Walmart in Lowell, Arkansas. That Walmart features a dedicated space that is distinctly separate from the rest of the big-box retailer’s other departments.

Munster visited one of Apple’s two Target micro-stores, and found it similar to Apple’s existing Best Buy locations, which are present in about 40 percent of Best Buy’s U.S. stores. However, unlike Best Buy, Target does not sell any of Apple’s Mac lineup.

“We believe the Target/Apple relationship will not expand to the full Mac lineup given Target does not sell a significant line of PCs,” Munster wrote in a note to investors on Thursday.

From his visit to Target’s micro-store, Munster found that product inventory was unsurprisingly far less than Apple would carry at its own retail stores. However, he did find that Target carried most of the company’s product lineup, with the exception of Mac hardware and software.

“The Apple micro-store was staffed by a Target employee who claimed to have received two hours of training from Apple,” he said. “Overall, the layout of the Target micro-store was more inviting compared to other Best Buy Apple micro-stores we have visited, in our opinion.”

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was asked about his company’s store-within-a-store initiative and its relationship with Walmart during Apple’s quarterly earnings conference call last week. Cook didn’t offer much in the way of details, but explained that Apple is “trying some things.” He said he didn’t expect Apple to be present in 10,000 Walmarts.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Retina Display supplies constrained by demand, shift in labor practices for Foxconn workers

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Date: Wednesday, April 11th, 2012, 07:09
Category: iPad, News, retail

If you don’t have enough of a given part, it makes assembly a bit harder.

Then there’s the awkward part about easing working conditions for your labor force…

Per AppleInsider, demand for Apple’s new iPad remains strong, but production of the device has reportedly been limited by supply of Retina displays, as well as a new focus on employees at Foxconn that has resulted in worker hours being cut.

Analyst Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee aimed to quash some investor concern on Wednesday that demand for the new iPad is waning. That’s not true, he said, as his checks within Apple’s supply chain have found that the company continues to have strong interest in its latest touchscreen tablet.

Instead, he said, it’s supply of the new high-resolution Retina display that has limited shipments of the latest iPad. He expects that situation to improve over the coming quarters, as additional production lines and suppliers are added.

Samsung is currently believed to be the primary supplier of Retina displays for the new iPad. Both LG and Sharp were said to have initially struggled in making the high-resolution screens for Apple, but recently began small-volume shipments.

Another factor in iPad supply, Wu said, has been the fact that Foxconn is now “conforming to more sound labor practices.” Last month, following an independent audit by the Fair Labor Association, Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn agreed to fix a number of violations that were discovered, including excess working times by its factory employees.

“This is in an effort to improve working conditions,” Wu said. “From our understanding, the irony is that many employees prefer to work more overtime.”

Some Foxconn workers publicly questioned last month why their hours were being cut after the review conducted by the FLA. Foxconn reduced employee working hours to 49 per week, including overtime, but the change will also result in smaller paychecks for workers.

Because iPad production has apparently been slowed by factors other than demand, Wu has opted to raise his estimates for sales in the current quarter. He now sees Apple having sold 12.3 million iPads in the already-concluded March quarter, up from his previous forecast of 11.5 million.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.