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Apple unveils new \"mini\" retail store design (images)

Apple\'s smaller gadget boutiques will embrace a design similar to the company\'s current product offerings.

Apple today unveiled its new \"mini\" retail store, an all-new design featuring stainless steel walls and seamless white floors and ceilings. The mini store is half the size of Apple’s smallest store to date, which will allow it to be placed in a variety of new locations to introduce Apple\'s products to even more customers, the company said.

The first six mini stores will open this Saturday at 10 a.m. in Palo Alto, CA; San Jose, CA; Santa Rosa, CA; Tukwila, WA; Bridgewater, NJ; and Rockaway, NJ.

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs attended Thursday\'s news conference to unveil one of the new Apple stores at a shopping mall near Palo Alto, marking his first public appearance since he underwent a successful operation on his pancreas in late July.

\"I\'m back, I\'m back,\" Jobs told the Associated Press with a smile shortly after pulling open a black curtain to reveal the sleek new store.

Alongside Jobs at the conference was Apple Retail vice president Ron Johnson, who at one point noted that the new store design was roughly the same size as retail outlets in airports, suggesting that future airport-based Apple stores could become a convenience for traveling shoppers.

During the first three years of Apple’s retail strategy, Apple has located 84 retail stores in the United States and today over half of the US population lives within 15 minutes of an Apple retail store, according to Apple research. The mini store is designed to precisely locate additional stores closer to customers to make it even more convenience to purchase products and get help.


Apple\'s new Apple mini stores will feature a full line of iPods, laptops and the iMac G5 desktop. In addition, the stores will offer an assortment of the best third party products, on-site repair on all Apple products, and a minature Mac Genius Bar where anyone can get their questions answered by an Apple \"Genius.\"

Since the opening of the first Apple retail store in May 2001, Apple retail stores have attracted almost 50 million visitors and recently generated revenues of almost $1.2 billion in the company’s 2004 fiscal year.

In addition to opening six mini Apple retail stores, Apple is also opening a retail store this Saturday in Newark, DE. A complete list of Apple\'s 93 retail locations can be found at the company\'s retail web site.