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Apple Store turns 10 this week: Is iPhone 5 the secret new gadget?

Could the iPhone 5 be behind the veil of secrecy surrounding the the Apple Store turning 10 this week?

The Apple Store is 10 years old this week, but what is the mysterious hardware that Apple is launching to celebrate? Sealed orders have arrived at every Apple Store for new hardware to be unveiled this weekend, marking a decade of iPods, Geniuses and insane openings. Could it be the iPhone 4S or iPhone 5?

A variety of staff will be working overnight on Saturday into Sunday, when all staff are required to attend a meeting, Boy Genius Report reports.

The secrecy has reached George Smiley levels: staff have to lock their phones away and sign a contract not to tell anyone what's happening, black curtains are being put up around the stores, and the new hardware is being kept under lock and key. Even the training material downloaded from Apple headquarters is in a password-protected folder that can't be opened until Sunday.

The first Apple Store opened 10 years ago in Tysons Corner, Virginia -- it dropped the apostrophe in the early 1970s, grammar fans -- on 19 May 2001. The Regent Street branch in London was the first in Europe.

There are now more than 300 Apple Stores around the world, including four in China. The world's largest is right here in London -- click here for our tour of the Covent Garden Apple Store. There's even one in the Louvre, which prompted us to suggest some other unusual places Apple could set up shop.

Apple Stores are famous for their clean minimalist design, the Genius Bar for customer support, and the wooden tables with computers and devices out for you to use. As part of the minimalist approach, Apple did away with tills in 2006, and now each member of staff uses a special iPod touch to take your payment. It's still "like working at McDonald's", though.

Image credit: youtalktome83