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Summary:

On the eve of Apple retail’s ten-year anniversary, rumors are suggesting big changes inside Apple Stores this weekend. Those changes might include iPad-based payment terminals and interactive displays, dedicated product setup areas, and more changes designed to improve the brick-and-mortar shopping experience.

Black before for the iPad 2 launch

Blacked out Apple Store in Durham, NC, before the iPad 2 launch

Earlier this week, BGR cited a “solid” source concerning a possible “major product launch” in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of Apple retail. Details focused on mysterious “hardware” that had already been received, overnight shifts this weekend, black helicopters curtains, and the always insanely tight security. Of course, the longtime Appleologist would be rightly be skeptical at the company launching a new product on a Monday, unless the new product was the Apple Store itself.

Like pieces in a puzzle, additional rumors are putting together a picture of a new retail experience to start the second decade of the Apple Store. 9to5 Mac has coined it the “Apple Store 2.0 event,” citing a source that provided “a load” of tantalizing unconfirmed information.

9to5 Mac asserts the new retail experience has been in planning for a while, led by CEO Steve Jobs and VP of Retail Ron Johnson. That makes sense, as the original Apple Store design was heavily influenced by those two. Supposedly, Apple industrial design wizard Jonathan Ive has also been involved with the planned changes.

Those changes reportedly include more emphasis on personal services relating to new products. Last quarter, Apple set up more than a million products for customers for free. Supposedly, a dedicated part of the store will be used for personal setup going forward.

In terms of the shopping experience, signage next to Apple products like Macs will be replaced with iPads, presumably to provide information displays. There will also be new, “huge” displays in some stores, as well as new sound systems. A few stores currently have wall-screen projectors. There will also be a new Apple Store app, if that’s not being too redundant, that will help guide consumers through a local shopping experience.

AppleInsider, citing sources “familiar” with Apple retail, suggests Apple is preparing to have employees use iPads on the floor. It’s unknown whether the iPads would replace the current EasyPay terminals used with the iPod touch, or perhaps be complementary. Those iPads could be the hardware BGR referenced.

It’s looking more and more like these rumors will pan out. That means besides a press release on Monday, expect some kind of carefully staged unveiling at a flagship store with at least some Apple executives present, if not Steve Jobs himself.

  1. What on earth is that creepy gold faced thing in the blue hoodie on the left side of the picture? It looks like some kind of jovial Dr. Who villain.

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    1. It’s a bronze sculpture of a child on a bike. The Southpoint Mall in Durham is infested with them. I fear they come alive at night consume the souls of trespassers.

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