Apple Closes its Retail Stores, Vets Apps Related to COVID-19

Due to the coronavirus, Apple closed its retail stores outside of mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The move will shutter 450 stores in 21 countries until March 27. Apple chief executive Tim Cook noted that, “the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance.” Employees of the stores will continue to be paid. The company is also paying special attention to apps related to the coronavirus, to weed out misinformation and inappropriate content. Continue reading Apple Closes its Retail Stores, Vets Apps Related to COVID-19

Disney+ Service Has Strong Start With 41 Million Downloads

Since its debut two months ago, the Disney+ mobile app has been downloaded from the Apple Store and Google Play 41 million times — four times as many as HBO Now — earning nearly $100 million, reports Sensor Tower. That news sent Disney shares up two percent to $146.72. In Q4 2019, Disney+ was downloaded 30 million times, more than twice that of TikTok. According to a YouGov survey, 76 percent of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with Disney+ compared to 48 percent for Apple TV+. Continue reading Disney+ Service Has Strong Start With 41 Million Downloads

Apple iPhones Can Now Be Repaired at Any U.S. Best Buy

Apple and Best Buy announced the two companies are extending their partnership so that technicians can repair iPhones at any of the 992 Best Buy locations in the U.S. The companies also revealed that 7,600 Geek Squad techs are now certified for iPhone repairs using genuine parts from Apple. While Apple will continue to offer repairs at its own stores, the new deal should prove beneficial to iPhone users in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming, since Apple does not presently have stores in these states. Continue reading Apple iPhones Can Now Be Repaired at Any U.S. Best Buy

Japanese Startup Breaks News Stories With AI, Social Media

JX Press Corp., a news technology startup founded in 2008 by Katsuhiro Yoneshige, broke the news in Japan of Kim Jong-nam’s death. What’s remarkable is that the company doesn’t employ any journalists or have any international bureaus. Instead, it got the scoop — 30 minutes before big media outlets including TV stations — with a combination of artificial intelligence and social media. Yoneshige and his team used machine learning to build a tool that finds breaking news in social media posts and writes it up as news reports. Continue reading Japanese Startup Breaks News Stories With AI, Social Media

Apple iPhone X Shipping Delays: A Supply or Demand Issue?

Demand appears to be outstripping supply for Apple’s new iPhone X, since early order estimated shipment dates have been pushed to December. Online preorders began at 3:00 am ET on Friday in 50+ countries. The phone officially goes on sale on November 3, but the shipping estimate for the U.S., China and Japan is now at five-to-six weeks, at least twice the wait for new models a year ago. For example, when the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus went on sale last year, Apple estimated deliveries in one-to-three weeks. Continue reading Apple iPhone X Shipping Delays: A Supply or Demand Issue?

Apple Installs Interactive HomeKit Experiences in 46 Stores

In an effort to help consumers better understand the benefits of Apple HomeKit products, Apple has installed interactive smart-home displays in 46 of its retail locations worldwide. Apple customers can use the Home mobile app via an Apple Watch, iPhone or iPad to perform functions such as turning on Philips Hue light bulbs and controlling Hunter ceiling fan speeds. Apple’s Home app allows users to control HomeKit-enabled smart devices from a single location (or even collectively with a single command) by tapping the screen or interacting with virtual assistant Siri. Continue reading Apple Installs Interactive HomeKit Experiences in 46 Stores

Sony to Launch Mobile Versions of PlayStation Titles in Japan

In April, Sony will start releasing smartphone versions of popular PlayStation games in Japan as well as a pad and playing cards that gamers can connect to their smartphones via Bluetooth technology. Among those games are “Everybody’s Golf” and “PaRappa the Rapper.” Sony’s goal is to have a new and more constant revenue stream, given that the console business is dependent on the introduction of new hardware. Sony already provides die-hard PlayStation fans a subscription program for low-cost game rentals. Continue reading Sony to Launch Mobile Versions of PlayStation Titles in Japan

Apple Redesigns Retail Stores, Opens San Francisco Flagship

On the 15th anniversary of the first Apple retail store, the company unveiled a new design for its 477 physical outlets. In the face of a slump in sales, the redesigned stores are one more way to bring in customers, existing and new, to buy products and bask in the Apple lifestyle. The first to open is in San Francisco’s Union Square. The two-story building features 42-foot-tall glass doors that expose the interior to the street, special displays on photography, music and more room to wander and play with Apple products. Continue reading Apple Redesigns Retail Stores, Opens San Francisco Flagship

Apple’s New iPhones Set a New First-Weekend Sales Record

Apple broke its first-weekend sales record, after selling 13 million iPhone 6s and 6s Plus phones since Friday. That figure bests the 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices sold last year during the first weekend. The increase is likely the result of market selections; this year the new phones were made available in China, one of Apple’s biggest markets, but last year China was not included in the first weekend. The sales figures were in line with some analysts’ expectations. Daniel Ives at FBR Capital projected 13 million in sales, while Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray predicted 12 to 13 million. Continue reading Apple’s New iPhones Set a New First-Weekend Sales Record

Free Shipping and Speedy Delivery a New Focus for Companies

In shipping news, retailers and tech companies continue to compete for consumers’ attention by offering fast and affordable delivery options. While Amazon, Google and others continue their plans for drone delivery — and companies continue to experiment with one- and two-hour delivery in major cities — recent news has surfaced that Apple is teaming with Postmates to offer same-day delivery of Apple Store items, Walmart is developing a new three-day shipping service, and Amazon is introducing free shipping on thousands of smaller goods. Continue reading Free Shipping and Speedy Delivery a New Focus for Companies

Initial Projections Suggest Apple Watch is Beating Expectations

Apple Watch may have surpassed global pre-orders of 2.3 million units last week, according to unofficial figures from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The most popular model is the Apple Watch Sport says Kuo, who has an impressive record of predicting sales of Apple devices. If the figures are accurate, they almost double the 1.25-1.5 million in sales projected for the first weekend. Meanwhile, Apple is introducing workshops called ‘Apple Watch Basics’ at its Apple Store locations to show consumers how to use the new wearable. Continue reading Initial Projections Suggest Apple Watch is Beating Expectations

Apple Watch Expected to Increase Foot Traffic in Apple Stores

The highly anticipated Apple Watch will begin shipping April 24, and Apple is hoping for big returns, even if store visitors do not purchase the pricey new wearable. Analysts expect the Apple Watch to draw many curious customers who want to see exactly what a smartwatch entails and whether it is worth the investment. Developers are also anxious to explore the possibilities of a wearable, and Apple received more than 1,000 Apple Watch apps in just four days last week. Continue reading Apple Watch Expected to Increase Foot Traffic in Apple Stores

Google Selects London Location for its First Ever Branded Shop

Google has opened its first branded physical store, with plans to sell the company’s Android phones and tablets, Chromebook laptops and Chromecast TV services. The Google shop is located on Tottenham Court Road in London. While not its first foray into physical locations — Google opened “Chromezones” in U.K. stores in 2011 and “Androidland” in Australian stores — it marks the first time the company is opening a shop under its own name and illustrates how some major online players are exploring new ways to reach consumers. Continue reading Google Selects London Location for its First Ever Branded Shop

Wonderlabs: Google Promotes Devices in Pop-Up Showrooms

Google is opening temporary showrooms in six U.S. cities to display and promote its latest gadgets. Consumers can visit the holiday-themed pop-up stores, dubbed “Winter Wonderlabs,” to check out devices such as the Nexus 7 tablet, Google’s Chromebook laptops and the digital TV receiver Chromecast. The Winter Wonderlab in Canoga Park opened over the weekend. Additional locations include Chicago, New York City, Sacramento, Washington DC, and Paramus, NJ. Continue reading Wonderlabs: Google Promotes Devices in Pop-Up Showrooms

Retail Strategy: Exec Discusses What He Learned Building the Apple Stores

  • Ron Johnson, the new CEO of J.C. Penny and the former SVP of retail for Apple, talks about what he learned building the Apple Stores, the leading U.S. retailer with sales of $5,626 per square foot, nearly double the sales of Tiffany & Co, its closest competitor.
  • People come to the Apple Store for the experience, the most important part of which is the staff. The philosophy is NOT focused on selling, but on building relationships and making the customer’s life better, a model that worked for Apple.
  • “The staff is exceptionally well trained, and they’re not on commission, so it makes no difference to them if they sell you an expensive new computer or help you make your old one run better so you’re happy with it,” explains Johnson. “Their job is to figure out what you need and help you get it, even if it’s a product Apple doesn’t carry. Compare that with other retailers where the emphasis is on cross-selling and upselling and, basically, encouraging customers to buy more, even if they don’t want or need it.”
  • The Apple model is not easy, and has required persistence. The Genius Bar, for example, was not popular in the beginning, but Apple stuck with it as the best way to help customers. “Three years after the Genius Bar launched, it was so popular we had to set up a reservation system,” writes Johnson.

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