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.

iPad 3 to go on sale at 8 A.M. this Friday

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Date: Wednesday, March 14th, 2012, 07:48
Category: iPad, News, retail

Once again, that time is upon us.

Yes, once again, you shall stand in line for the brand new iPad.

And, per the weather reports, I get to do it in the rain.

Again.

On Wednesday, Apple announced that the third-generation iPad will go on sale at 8 A.M. local time this Friday in the U.S. and nine other countries.

The third-generation iPad will be available at Apple’s retail stores and the company’s online store this Friday at 8 a.m. in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the U.K. It will also be available in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In addition to Apple’s retail stores, the new iPad will also be available in the U.S. at Best Buy, Radio Shack, Sam’s Club, Target and Walmart on Friday’s launch day. 4G LTE versions will also be available at AT&T and Verizon retail stores in the U.S.

Officially announced a week ago, the new iPad has a high-resolution Retina display powered by the new A5X chip that features quad-core graphics processing. The third-generation tablet also sports a 5-megapixel iSight camera with advanced optics capable of recording 1080p video.

The new iPad also offers a 4G LTE model capable of connecting to high-speed data networks in the U.S. and Canada, as well as 3G networks around the world based on HSPA+ and DC-HSPDA.

In addition to the new iPad, Apple has also continued to sell last year’s iPad 2 in a capacity of 16GB, starting at US$399 for the Wi-Fi-only model. A 3G-capable version is also available for US$529.

New iPads purchased at an Apple retail store come with free “Personal Setup” service, which helps customers customize their iPad by setting up e-mail, installing software from the App Store and more. Apple also offers its “Personal Pickup” service at U.S. retail stores, allowing customers to shop and buy from anywhere, then pick up their purchase at any retail store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple sells out of iPad 3 online preorder stock, retail units should still be available for Friday launch

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Date: Monday, March 12th, 2012, 07:31
Category: iPad, News, retail

It might just be a long iPad 3 launch day line this year.

Per AppleInsider, Less than two days after Apple’s new iPad was unveiled, the company has sold out of launch-day preorders in its online store, as new orders are now advertised to ship by March 19.

Customers who order a third-generation iPad now from Apple’s online store will not receive it until after next Friday’s launch date. The March 19 shipping date now applies to all models, capacities and colors sold in the U.S.

Of course, while launch-day supplies are no longer available at Apple’s online store, those who wait in line at the company’s retail outlets will still have a chance to get an iPad on March 16. In addition, Apple’s retail partners, including Best Buy and others, will have stock on launch day.

The first sign that demand for the new iPad was outstripping supply came on Thursday, when shipping estimates for the white 4G LTE model compatible with AT&T’s network were the first to have estimated shipping dates of March 19. The first models to sell out for launch day delivery were the 16- and 64-gigabyte capacities.

But now, all 16-, 32- and 64-gigabyte models, Wi-Fi-only or 4G LTE, and in black and white are all scheduled to ship three days after the official iPad launch.

Next Friday’s iPad launch will be the largest debut yet for the company, as the touchscreen tablet will go on sale in 10 countries. They are the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia.

As for the 16-gigabyte iPad 2, available in both white and black with Wi-Fi-only connectivity or 3G compatibility, new orders are advertised to ship in one to three business days. The Wi-Fi-only iPad 2 will remain available in a 16-gigabyte capacity as the new low-end model, for US$399, while a 3G variant will cost US$529.

Those who were among the first to preorder the third-generation iPad have already begun receiving notifications that their order has shipped from China. However, the iPads are not scheduled to actually be delivered until next Friday, which is the product’s official launch day.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to combat scalpers in Hong Kong with lottery system for iPhone 4S release

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Date: Tuesday, January 31st, 2012, 05:23
Category: iPhone, News, retail

It never hurts to think ahead.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple is looking to combat reservation scalpers through a new lottery system for its iPhone 4S Hong Kong release. The company has set up a new web page on its site for reserving an iPhone in Hong Kong. The page requires the customer to enter a government ID number, which they must reportedly also show at the time of purchase. The system will then employ a lottery system, in which the winners get a chance to buy an iPhone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple Volume Purchase Program allows businesses to buy iOS apps in bulk

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Date: Thursday, January 26th, 2012, 05:58
Category: iOS, News, retail, Software

Sometimes a business just needs certain App Store apps.

Per Macworld, Apple quietly unveiled a Volume Purchase for Business program (also known as VPP) last summer: Essentially, it’s an App Store specifically for businesses, where they can purchase iOS apps in bulk. It allows developers to custom-tailor software for specific businesses; it also gives Apple another entry into the business market.

Here’s how the Volume Purchase Program works: Businesses create a single Apple ID to manage their purchases. Using that account—which needs to be linked to a corporate credit card or purchasing card—organizations can search for apps and then buy them in bulk.

Once the purchases have been made, Apple issues the company a list of redemption codes for the app. Whoever is managing app distribution for the company can email those codes to employees, allowing them to download the app just by following a link on their Mac, PC, or iOS device. The management interface is updated as users redeem the apps, keeping track of which codes are still available, as well as retaining a full purchase history.

Developers say Apple sets a minimum price of US$10 per app, but after that they’re free to offer custom prices, features, and services to specific customers.

VPP does have its limitations and as of now has yet to expand beyond the United States.

For years, Apple has famously focused on the consumer end of the market. But as more and more of those consumers bring their iPhones and iPads to work, IT departments are increasingly needing to take advantage of those devices; VPP gives Apple a way to help with that and thereby make inroads into the enterprise market.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve ever used the VPP for your business, please let us know about your experience, positive or otherwise.

Apple nukes $100 rebate with purchase of qualifying printer, future incentive programs in question

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Date: Wednesday, January 18th, 2012, 05:23
Category: News, retail

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You know, it was kind of nice having a nifty incentive/rebate to look forward to.

Per ” target=”_blank”>AppleInsider, Apple’s promotion that offered a US$100 rebate to customers who purchased a Mac and qualifying printer has been discontinued with no alternative incentives announced.

In a change to its promotion information webpage on Tuesday, Apple announced that the long-standing printer rebate program has been cancelled, leaving the company without any rebates or incentives for new computer buyers.

The Cupertino, Calif., company has traditionally offered some sort of incentive when customers buy a new Mac, such as the US$100 instant rebate when purchasing a computer and printer. While the programs were usually “limited time only” affairs, Apple’s latest printer rebate was a perpetual offer that stipulated the company could end it at any time.

Apple has advertised a US$100 printer rebate sporadically from 2001 alongside numerous other discounts and promotions for both hardware and software.

The company is also known for its educational rebates and discounts, including the annual back-to-school promotion which has offered free iPods to gift cards.

Currently, Apple offers discounts for students and teachers through its Education Store or at Apple Store locations and campuses though the program is more of an institution rather than form of incentive.

It is unclear whether Apple is slowly phasing out incentives as the company’s online store usually has some type of discount.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Target announces 25 Apple “Store-Within-a-Store” locations in 2012

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Date: Thursday, January 12th, 2012, 15:38
Category: News, retail

With any luck, this’ll work out better than the infamous Apple “Store Within a Store” locations at CompUSA during the 90s…

Per the New York Times, Target on Thursday confirmed that it plans to open 25 specialty stores dedicated to Apple products inside 25 of its existing retail locations.

The concept is called “The Shops at Target,” and the dedicated Apple ministores coming to 25 Target locations will not be alone. The Minneapolis-based retailer has also partnered with Boston’s Polka Dog Bakery and Miami’s The Webster, among others, for its specialty shops.

Target has been selling Apple products for years, including the iPad, iPhone, and Apple’s iPod lineup. Target does not currently offer any of Apple’s Mac lineup, however, while Best Buy’s Apple stores do sell Mac products.

The new Target mini-stores could pave the way for more products, like Macs or AirPort wireless routers, to become available. However, there has been no indication that the Apple stores at Target will offer a product selection as wide as Best Buy currently does.

“Stores-within-a-store, with dedicated floor space and signs and shelves designed by a brand, have been a popular strategy for a while,” author Stephanie Clifford wrote for the Times. “Department stores have long had small boutiques for designers like Ralph Lauren or Chanel. J.C. Penney, a Target competitor, has made its stores-within-a-store — for Sephora, Call It Spring, MNG by Mango and other brands — a centerpiece of its strategy.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.