| Cult of Mac

Today in Apple history: Fans queue up as Apple opens Tokyo store, its first outside US


Apple's store in Tokyo's swanky Ginza shopping district.
Apple's first non-U.S. Apple Store was located in Tokyo.
Photo: Héctor García/Kirai CC

November 30: Today in Apple history: Apple opens first store outside U.S. in Tokyo's trendy Ginza shopping district November 30, 2003: Apple expands its retail chain outside the United States, opening its 73rd Apple Store in Tokyo’s trendy Ginza shopping district.

On opening day, thousands of Apple fans — possibly the biggest queue in Apple history — line up around the block in the rain to gain early access to the store, which offers five full floors of Apple product goodness.

Steve Jobs does not show up for the opening. However, shoppers hear a welcoming speech from Eiko Harada, president of Apple Japan.

Today in Apple history: Apple begins retail venture inside CompUSA


Desiring more control over how Macs got sold, Apple turned to CompUSA.
Desiring more control over how Macs got sold, Apple turned to CompUSA.
Photo: Coolcaesar/Wikipedia CC

November 4: Today in Apple history: Apple CompUSA November 4, 1997: Apple unveils its plan to open small “store within a store” sections inside CompUSA outlets around the United States.

In a step toward the flagship Apple stores that would launch four years later, Cupertino-trained employees staff these mini-stores. The move gives Apple a bit more control over the way its products get displayed and demoed to consumers.

Tap to Pay rolls out at Apple Stores across US


Apple's Tap to Pay functionality is fast becoming the easy way to pay.
Apple's Tap to Pay functionality is fast becoming the easy way to pay.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s new contactless feature that lets one iPhone user pay another without additional hardware — known as Tap to Pay — is rolling out to Apple Stores across the U.S. starting Wednesday, according to a new report.

This follows a trial earlier in May at the Apple Park visitor center. The system lets iPhones accept payments via Apple Pay, contactless credit and debit cards, and other digital wallets.

Omicron variant triggers wave of Apple retail store closures


Look who’s back.
Photo: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The new, highly transmissible COVID-19 variant reportedly forced Apple to shut down around 20 of its retail stores in the United States. Coronavirus cases continue to rise dramatically because of the omicron variant, with the daily national average more than doubling in the past two weeks.

Those planning to return a gift at a brick-and-mortar Apple Store, or use a gift certificate, should check to see if it’s open before heading out.

Fry’s Electronics is dead, and the Apple store helped kill it


The Fry's Electronics in Burbank, California, had a retro alien invasion theme.
The alien invasion theme of the Fry's in Burbank, California, looks sadly appropriate now.
Photo: Theron Trowbridge/Flickr CC

Fry’s Electronics, a brick-and-mortar retailer and Silicon Valley institution since the mid-1980s, has shut its doors. And, while it might be hyperbolic to say Apple killed the quirky electronics superstore, Cupertino certainly hammered a nail or three in Fry’s coffin.

The chain — which stocked a sprawling selection of TVs, stereos and other electronics alongside computer components, DVDs, groceries and less-savory items — became a go-to for geeks as personal computers took off.

But even with crazy themed stores that made it the “Walt Disney World of electronics stores,” Fry’s couldn’t compete in the sleek new retail world Apple created.

New lockdown measures close all Apple stores in the UK


It's not clear when Apple Stores in the UK will open again.
Photo: Richard Shrum for Cult of Mac

Apple temporarily closed all its brick-and-mortar stores in the United Kingdom on Tuesday as a result of new COVID-19 lockdown measures imposed by the government.

Twenty of the 38 U.K. Apple stores were already closed due to coronavirus. However, new national lockdown measures that came into place Tuesday shuttered the other 18.

Apple closing all 38 stores in England as country goes into new lockdown


One of the many stores in England which will be closing temporarily.
Photo: Richard Shrum for Cult of Mac

Apple Stores will close again in England as the country goes into a second national lockdown, starting Thursday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the lockdown over the weekend as a result of a sharp spike in coronavirus cases. The lockdown — which will last a minimum of four weeks, but maybe longer — means that all non-essential stores will close. That includes Apple stores.

Get a private tour of Apple’s new ‘floating’ Singapore store


This "secret passage" is the perfect location for a selfie or two.
Screenshot: SuperAdrianMe TV/YouTube

The fantastic photographs of Apple Marina Bay Sands, the new “floating” Apple store in Singapore, just don’t do this magnificent structure justice.

From its massive glass dome to a “secret passage” with a stunning view, a virtual private tour posted by a YouTuber is the closest you’ll get to the real thing — at least for now. You’ve got to watch it! (And if you’re lucky enough to be in Singapore for opening day, be sure to check out the YouTuber’s pro tips for visitors.)

Apple asks UK landlords for rent cuts despite record earnings


One of Apple's flagship retail stores in the UK.
Photo: Richard Shrum for Cult of Mac

Despite pulling in record earnings last quarter, Apple reportedly asked the landlords of its U.K. retail outlets to cut their rent by a massive 50%, The Sunday Times reports.

The newspaper says Apple is also asking for a “rent-free period” as the COVID-19 pandemic plays out. In return, the company says it will extend its leases for a lengthy period — although some of the stores in question have several years left on their lease agreements.

Apple retail stores launch one-on-one ‘Shop with a Specialist’ service


TO deal with COVID-19, Apple Store offer ‘Shop with a Specialist’ service.
“Shop with a Specialist” puts you one-on-one with a salesperson at Apple Stores.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Schedule a visit to an Apple Store and you’ll have an expert standing by just to answer your questions. That’s the promise of the “Shop with a Specialist” program that launched Wednesday.

While this is a touch of luxury, it’s also a necessity brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Apple is trying to keep its retail locations from being overcrowded. That apparently means limiting the number of customers to one per salesperson.