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Apple's online store closes in advance of iPhone event

As usual, Apple has temporarily shut the doors of its online store as it preps for the likely unveiling of a new iPhone and iPad and additional colors and bands for the Apple Watch.

"Let us loop you in," says the company that resides at 1 Infinite Loop.
James Martin/CNET

Sorry, folks, the online Apple Store is closed for shopping right now. But don't worry, it will reopen in just a little bit.

The company took the Web store offline at approximately 4 a.m. PT on Monday as it prepares to update the site with new products scheduled to debut at a press event starting at 10 a.m. PT.

A message on the company's Apple Store page says:

We can't wait to show you what we have in store.
Our virtual doors are just about to open. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and your patience as we work to get everyone in as quickly as possible. Keep checking back, because it won't be long now.

You can still browse the website to check out Apple's current products and services. You just can't purchase anything. The store typically returns to life soon after the event is over, revealing all the new items.

The timing of Monday's event is atypical for Apple, which usually announces its new mobile devices in September or October. Last year, however, the Cupertino, California, company used the month of March to introduce the Apple Watch. This time around, reports say the company will unveil at least three new products -- a 4-inch-screened iPhone, the iPad Air 3 and new colors, bands and possibly new software for its Apple Watch.

The Apple Store is closed for shoppers, but it will reopen later today.

screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Those new products come at a challenging time for Apple.

The company generates around two-thirds of its sales from the iPhone. But the market for smartphones has become saturated, raising the stakes for Apple and rivals from Samsung to LG to China's Huawei as they duke it out for consumers and the billions they spend on their phones. iPhone sales have slowed as consumers flock to less-pricey phones, so Apple may be looking to snag more budget-minded buyers, especially those in emerging markets, by launching a smaller-screened and lower-cost iPhone to replace the older iPhone 5S.

iPad sales also continue to weaken. Apple's response? Try to drum up interest in a new consumer iPad Air by adding features introduced in its business-oriented iPad Pro, including the new Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil stylus. The catch here is that the iPad Pro hasn't exactly lit the world on fire.

Apple's tagline for the event is "Let us loop you in." That could simply be a reference to Apple's headquarters at 1 Infinite Loop, but it may also be a tease about new bands for the Apple Watch.

The company remains mum about sales of its first smartwatch, but third-party research firms say the device has scooped up a huge chunk of the wearables market. To further woo buyers, Apple may unveil new colors for the watch, as well as partnerships like those with fashion brand Hermes. Apple may also update watchOS, the software that runs on Apple Watches, by improving Apple Maps and adding the ability to use multiple watches with a single iPhone.

Whatever products take the stage, you can follow the action live on CNET. Pre-event coverage begins around 9 a.m. PT, noon ET, 5 p.m. UK and 1 a.m. AEST, and we'll be live-blogging when the event starts an hour later.