Walmart to close online MP3 store later this month

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Date: Wednesday, August 10th, 2011, 04:11
Category: News, retail, Software

Retail giant Walmart revealed on Tuesday that it will close its MP3 store later this month, even as Apple’s iTunes continues to dominate the digital music industry.

The company declined to provide further details regarding the move, saying only that it was a “business decision,” as noted by the Associated Press. Walmart will close the store on August 29, though customers who have already purchased music through the site will still be able to access their music there.

Walmart opened its MP3 store in 2003 in direct competition with Apple’s iTunes. The digital storefront failed to gain much traction, however, with music sales on iTunes eventually passing Walmart’s combined physical and digital sales in 2008. Apple held 26.7% of all music sales by 2009, more than double Walmart’s 12.54% share.

As of late last year, Apple continued to dominate the digital music market with a 66% share, while second-place Amazon had climbed to 13.3%. Walmart’s share stood at less than 1% at the time.

NPD analyst Marshall Cohen characterized the retail industry as being in flux, noting that Walmart may be better off focusing on what it does best, rather than continuing to deliver a sub-par experience to consumers.

“It is very easy to become antiquated very quickly in the entertainment industry,” he said. “If you are losing ground, and they probably were losing ground more rapidly year after year, it’s probably better to regroup and retool.”

Walmart’s failure with its digital music store has been partially attributed to its choice of format. The company bet on Windows Media Audio, but eventually found itself competing with Microsoft’s own Zune Marketplace while being blocked from Apple’s iPod.

RadioShack offering discounted iPhone 3GS, 4 handsets until August 20th

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Date: Tuesday, August 9th, 2011, 03:25
Category: iPhone, News, retail

This may not be the fire sale you’re hoping for, but it’s something.

Per CNET, from now through August 20, RadioShack is cutting US$30 off the price of Apple’s iPhone 4, as well as the iPhone 3GS. Deeper discounts can be had if buyers bring in their iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS and use the company’s Trade and Save program, which it’s had going since before the iPhone 4 went on sale.

RadioShack and Target unofficially lowered pricing on phones at the end of last month, with those prices going into effect on July 31. Today’s news puts an endmark on the deal, as well as adding the capability to stack those savings with the company’s trade-in service.

Apple is expected to bring out a next-generation iPhone between now and October, with recent rumors citing the company’s launch window for October, though a slew of reports from earlier this year said it would be sometime next month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and, hey, savings are never a bad thing.

Apple launches App Store Volume Purchase Program for businesses

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Date: Thursday, July 14th, 2011, 14:43
Category: iOS, News, retail

While iOS from the App Store have proven to be supremely useful, they can prove to be an expensive habit when purchased en masse.

Per Macworld, Apple has announced the App Store Volume Purchase for Business Program, which offers to businesses the same capabilities that the company made available to educational institutions last year.

With the Volume Purchase Program you create a single Apple ID that is specifically used to manage purchases for your organization. Using that account—which needs to be linked to a corporate credit card or purchasing card—organizations can search for apps and then purchase them in bulk. (There’s no discount for purchasing in bulk, however; the prices remain the same as they are in the App Store.)

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.

In addition to purchasing apps available on the App Store, the Volume Purchase Program also lets you buy custom business-to-business (B2B) apps that third parties develop for your company. These are distinct from apps that might be developed within a company and distributed to employees, in that they are required to be paid apps (costing at least US$10) and are developed out of house. The app developer, who needs to be a member of the iOS Developer program, also needs to authorize purchasers to allow them to buy the apps, at which point the process is virtually identical to buying apps in bulk from the store.

Both cases allow organizations to use third-party Mobile Device Management (MDM) programs to distribute and manage redemption codes for apps.

To be eligible for the Volume Purchase Program, your organization must have a Dun & Bradstreet (D-U-N-S) number, a valid business address, and business contact information. Though the program is not yet in operation, Apple says that it’s coming soon and that a full guide on volume purchasing is available at Apple’s website.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple Store iPhone app updated to version 1.3, allows build-to-order Mac purchases

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Date: Tuesday, May 24th, 2011, 02:22
Category: iPhone, News, retail, Software

Apple on Monday updated its “Apple Store” application for the iPhone, offering the ability to order a custom Mac, and also more quickly receive help when at a retail store.

Per AppleInsider, the free application is currently available on the App Store. Version 1.3 is a 3.2MB download, and is available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. The app requires iOS 4.0 or later to install and run.

The release of the software coincides with the debut of Apple’s improved retail stores, which were upgraded on Sunday. The company now makes use of interactive iPad displays to provide product information, pricing and features.

According to Apple, new features of Apple Store 1.3 are:
- Enhanced in-store mode lets you get help and support quickly when you’re at an Apple Retail Store.

- The ability to custom-configure a new Mac with the options you want.

Using the new application, users can make modifications and upgrades to a Mac order placed from their iPhone. For example, users can add more RAM or upgrade the hard drive of a Mac before they finalize their order — features that were previously only available on Apple’s website.

The software is still only written for the iPhone and iPod touch, prompting some initial negative reviews from users in the App Store. Though the application can be run on an iPad, as all iOS software can, it is not optimized for the screen size and resolution of the touchscreen tablet.

Rumors of the updated iPhone application first surfaced on Saturday, revealing that the software was set to debut as part of Apple’s retail revamp. Apple’s online store went offline on Friday to also prepare for the changes.

The Apple Store application was first released in June of 2010. With it, users can view products, read customer reviews, locate a nearby Apple Retail Store, and buy or reserve devices like the iPhone.

If you tinkered with the new app and have any opinions on it, let us know in the comments.

Apple unveils updated retail experience, introduces interactive iPad displays

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Date: Monday, May 23rd, 2011, 03:52
Category: News, retail

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There were rumblings that Apple was doing something for its 10th retail anniversary.

And they apparently did.

Per Mac Prices Australia, Apple retail stores have taken the wraps off Apple’s new retail upgrade, which makes use of interactive iPad displays to provide product information, pricing and features.

Apple launched “Retail 2.0″ on Sunday morning in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Apple retail stores. The company opened its first retail stores on May 19, 2001, in McLean, Virginia and Glendale, Calif.

According to the report, the main change is the addition of stationary iPads placed next to other Apple products in order to display product prices, information and features. The touchscreen tablets can also be used to compare models and ask for help from a specialist. Photos of the new iPad display units reveal that the devices are placed in plexiglass.

The iPads appear to be running a custom software application, as customers report that pressing the home button on the tablets does nothing. Though the power cable for the device does not appear to connect to the dock, one person familiar with the matter said the cable is indeed connected to the dock connector, but is “very well hidden.” Also, detaching the cable will reportedly activate an alarm.

Some reports also suggested that Apple retail employees were wearing party hats to celebrate the occasion. Customers reported via Twitter that the Apple store updates created a “totally new experience.”

Apple had been reported as stockpiling iPads in preparation for a retail overhaul, the new in-house iPads having been slated for use with an updated version of RetailMe, Apple’s proprietary retail software.

Apple reportedly scheduled overnight shifts for retail employees in preparation for the updates to the Apple store. The company had blocked employees from taking vacation from May 20 to May 22. Mandatory meetings have been scheduled on Sunday morning and evening for Apple retail staff.

Apple has also taken offline the Order Status page from its website until Sunday, May 22 in order to perform a system update.

A recent report claimed Apple will update its “Apple Store” retail app for iOS this weekend, adding full build-to-order purchasing options to the application. Apple first released the retail app last year with support for stock configuration orders.

If you’ve wandered into an Apple Store location since the overhaul this weekend and have anything to report, let us know.

Apple sets gears in motion for possible 10th anniversary retail event

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Date: Tuesday, May 17th, 2011, 07:06
Category: News, retail

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I’m not sure what you’re supposed to give your significant other for your 10th anniversary or what Apple is supposed to offer its customer base for the 10th anniversary of its retail stores, but we’ll find out soon.

Per Boy Genius Report, Apple has made a number of retail store plans for this weekend, suggesting the company may be planning a special event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its retail stores. The article, citing an unnamed but “solid” Apple source, claims that Apple has scheduled an overnight shift for 10-15 individuals at each Apple Store, with employees expected to work from late Saturday through mid-Sunday.

During the overnight shift, employees will be required to lock their cell phones in the main office, and sign an Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with Apple. Per the report, the overnight shift will include all visuals staff, a manager, a business team manager, some Genius team members, a back-of-house employee, and a few Apple specialists.

The report goes on to claim that stores have already received hardware to install, which is to be under lock and key until after close on Saturday night, and are expecting more to arrive Friday or Saturday. Employees have reportedly already downloaded gigabytes of data from Apple corporate labeled “training” in a password-protected folder that isn’t accessible until Saturday afternoon, and will be hanging black curtains in store windows to prevent onlookers from peeking inside; finally, all Apple Stores will reportedly have mandatory meetings on Sunday, May 22, with most meetings scheduled for the morning.

Notably, the 10th anniversary of the opening of Apple’s first retail stores in Tysons Corner, VA and Glendale, CA falls on this Thursday, May 19, meaning that any event, promotion, or product introduction related to the retail meetings would seemingly come well after the anniversary itself.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple follows suit, drops iPhone 3GS handset price to $49 with AT&T contract

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Date: Monday, January 10th, 2011, 06:39
Category: iPhone, News, retail

Without a ton of fanfare, Apple has dropped the price of its entry-level 8GB iPhone 3GS handset to US$49 with a new two-year contract with AT&T, matching the new low price that last week was offered exclusively by the carrier.

The 8GB iPhone 3GS now retails for US$49, down from its original price of US$99. The price change came quietly, without an announcement from Apple, just a few days after AT&T revealed it had reduced the price of the iPhone 3GS as well.

Per AppleInsider, last week, AT&T made it clear that the price of the iPhone 3GS sold in Apple’s own channels, such as its retail and online stores, were determined by Apple itself, suggesting the US$50 price cut was solely AT&T’s doing. At the time, Apple’s official iPhone site still offered the 8GB iPhone 3GS for US$99.

The current-generation iPhone 4 models still carry the same price with a two-year AT&T contract. The 16GB model sells for US$199, while the high-end 32GB model has a price of US$299.

AT&T’s chief rival, Verizon, is widely expected to announce on Tuesday that it will carry a CDMA version of the iPhone in just a matter of weeks. While reports have said Verizon will offer the iPhone 4, no mention has been made of the iPhone 3GS, first released in 2009. If Verizon’s deal is only for the iPhone 4, the US$49 iPhone 3GS could remain an AT&T exclusive.

Starting with the launch of the iPhone 3GS in 2009, Apple began selling the previous year’s model with a two-year AT&T contract in the U.S. for US$99. While the initial US$99 handset from Apple was the iPhone 3G, last year that was upgraded to the 8GB iPhone 3GS when the iPhone 4 launched.

AT&T now selling iPhone 3GS for $49 to qualified customers

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Date: Friday, January 7th, 2011, 03:18
Category: iPhone, News, retail

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Sometimes you have to do interesting things to stay in the game.

Per the cool cats at the Mac Observer, wireless carrier AT&T announced on Thursday that on Friday, January 7, it will start selling the 8GB iPhone 3GS for US$49 to new and upgrade-eligible customers. Last month, retailers including Best Buy and Radio Shack offered temporary $49 iPhone 3GS deals, but now that price point is official, at least from AT&T: at the time this article was posted, Apple’s online store continues to offer the iPhone 3GS for US$99.

Apple released the iPhone 3GS during the summer of 2009, but it continued to be sold for US$99 after the iPhone 4 was announced last summer. Radio Shack’s holiday deal last month also knocked US$50 off the price of the iPhone 4, but prices for the current-gen smartphone seem poised to remain where they previously were for the time being.

Rumors have persistedthat the iPhone is headed to Verizon soon, which may have prompted the price change by AT&T.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Radio Shack offering $50 discount, additional trade-in credit towards iPhone 3GS, 4 handsets

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Date: Wednesday, December 29th, 2010, 06:23
Category: iPhone, News, retail

The holidays are winding down but the deals are still there if you know where to look for them.

Per the mighty Boy Genius Report, Radio Shack is once again offering a US$50 discount on new 16GB iPhone 4 and 8GB iPhone 3GS units, bringing their prices down to US$149 and $49, respectively.

The deal is reportedly good for “new and eligible upgrade customers while supplies last.” The retailer is also offering boosted trade-in credit for iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS units. “Qualifying iPhone 3G and 3G S handsets will have a guaranteed trade-in credit of US$75 and US$125, respectively,” reads an email received by BGR. To qualify, the iPhone must “power on, cannot be PIN locked and must be in fully functional, working condition without any broken components.”

This offer does not have a set end date and readers are encouraged to call their local store to check on availability.

Cyber Monday deals continue on U.S. Apple Store web site

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Date: Monday, November 29th, 2010, 07:37
Category: News, retail

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The savings continue and you won’t need to be trampled at a mega-store to get them…

Per the Mac Observer, Apple is offering Cyber Monday deals on items such as the Beats by Dr. Dre Beatbox iPod and iPhone speaker dock for US$359.95, iPhone and iPad cases by Michael Kors, Panasonic’s HM-TA1 HD video camera for $152.95, the G-Technology Mobile Hard Drive for $89.95, Twelve South’s Compass portable iPad stand for $35.95, and more.

The deals are available on November 29 and only through Apple’s U.S. Web-based store.

If you’ve found a good deal elsewhere, please let us know and thanks!