Apple is said to be preparing to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its retail stores, which takes place Thursday, with the possibility of a new product or service.
According to a "solid Apple source," Boy Genius Report says Apple has blocked out time for retail employees to prepare its retail stores, complete with a blackout curtain and new Apple hardware that could be unveiled this weekend.
"Apple stores have apparently already received hardware to install, and are expecting more hardware to come on Friday or Saturday," BGR writes. "All materials that Apple stores have received have been instructed to be under lock and key until after close on Saturday night."
Apple is also said to be having mandatory staff meetings at all of its retail stores on Sunday, with some in the morning and evening, a practice that's typically set up to train staff on new products, services, or policies.
As for what to expect in terms of a new or otherwise updated product, the timing is a bit unusual. Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference begins the second week of June, which is now less than a month away. There, the company is expected to focus mainly on software, but new hardware has made a debut there before, including the iPhone 4. There are a number of other Apple products due for a hardware refresh including the MacBook, Mac Pro, Mac Mini, and iPods, but any of those getting a surprise weekend update would unusual.
Rumors swirled earlier this year about Apple unveiling an overhauled version of its MobileMe service early in the year, though with that being a cloud initiative, and likely tied to a developer platform. It seems an unlikely candidate to be tied to the celebration of something mainly geared towards Apple hardware. That said, if Apple wants to make a push for customers to pick up a subscription (if it's a paid service), it makes sense to hone the pitch to the people who will be working the floor, and who can potentially bundle it with new products--something the company's tried in the past.
Apple opened its first two retail stores on May 19, 2001 with one at Tysons Corner Center in McLean, Va., followed by the Glendale Galleria store in Glendale, Calif. The company has since gone on to open more than 320 others, with most in U.S. cities.
During its most recent quarterly earnings call, Apple said that its stores pulled in revenues of $3.19 billion during the quarter, up 51 percent from the same time last year. That amounts to an average of $9.9 million in revenue per store. The company also said more than 1 billion visitors had stepped foot in its retail stores since their debut.