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Apple to open first overseas store

The company is planning to launch 20 stores in the next 12 months, including a large one in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district early next year.

Apple Computer said Tuesday it plans to open 20 stores in the next 12 months, including its first outside the United States.

The Mac maker said it will inaugurate a large store in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district early next year. The company also plans "high-profile" stores on Chicago's Michigan Avenue and in San Francisco's Union Square.

"In just two years Apple has changed the face of computer retailing for over 15 million people that have visited our 57 stores throughout the U.S.," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement. "During the next 12 months we will extend our reach even further by opening 20 more stores."

The announcement comes two years after Apple opened its first retail stores in McLean, Va., and Glendale, Calif.

The Chicago store will launch on June 27, while the San Francisco locale won't open its doors until next spring, the company said. In recent weeks, Apple has unveiled stores in Honolulu, Seattle and Sacramento, Calif. Apple said in April that it planned to have 70 stores by the end of the calendar year, up from 53 at the time.

Apple's retail outlets sell the company's complete line of Macs and iPods as well as software from the Mac maker and others, and add-ons such as digital cameras and camcorders.

As Apple has continued to build stores, it has parted ways with some of its independent resellers. In April, longtime San Francisco Bay Area reseller Elite Computers & Software said it would close its chain of several Mac-only stores.