Apple Retail investigating over two dozen Japan locations

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Exclusive: Apple Computer will open its second retail store in Japan later this year. The flagship store in Osaka will join Apple's premier flagship store in Tokyo, but company documents recently shown to AppleInsider reveal that the company is currently scouting over two dozen retail locations in the country.

As part of its overseas retail initiative, Apple has maintained a Japan retail 'Hit List,' which currently references up to 27 prospective or secured storefronts, including 6 more in Tokyo and 2 others in Osaka. Each is assigned a deployment priority ranking, which coincides with surrounding district population figures also present in the documents.

In addition to detailing square footage requirements for the locations, Apple also references each one’s proximity to city streets and mass-transit services, such as rail stations. Of the 27, all but 8 reside in or near shopping centers and 25 are within walking distance to a highly trafficked rail station.

Apple Japan 'A list' locations

Shortly after rolling out its high-profile Shinsaibahi, Osaka store, sources believe that the company will begin tackling its remaining 'A-list', which includes three 7,000-square-foot stores tentatively planned for Shinjuku, Tokyo; Shibuya, Tokyo; and Umeda, Osaka. A fourth location set in Harajuku/Omotesando, Tokyo would occupy a 4,000-square-foot space.

The Umeda location is the only A-list store that would be placed within a shopping center, while the Harajuku/Omotesando store is the only one on the list without close proximity to a major rail station.

Apple Japan 'B list' locations

Apple's ‘B-list’ contains data on seven 4,000 square-foot stores. The list is topped by a potential store in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, which could see significantly more traffic than several of the stores listed on the company's ‘A-list’. The remaining six reside in Tachikawa, Tokyo; Machida, Tokyo; Yokohama, Kanagawa; Nagoya, Aichi; Sapporo, Hokkaido; and Fukuoka.

Of the seven B-list locations, the four outside of Tokyo are designated in shopping center districts. The Ikebukuro and Machida locations are reportedly accessible immediately off city streets, while the Tachikawa fits neither category.

Apple Japan 'C list' locations

Beginning about halfway down the 'Hit List' are six retail spaces that make up the company's ‘C-list’. On average, these reside in areas of Japan with a population density slightly below those locations featured in the upper half of the list.

The six locations are being reviewed for potential 4,000-square-foot retail spaces in Omiya, Saitama; Sendai, Miyagi; Kobe, Hyogo; Abeno, Osaka; Kyoto; and Hiroshima. Each features street access and nearby rail stations, and with the exception of the Omiya and Kobe spots, all reside within shopping centers.

Apple Japan 'D list' and other locations

Rounding out the list of prospective Apple Japan retail spaces are three 'D-list' locations and five other locations with no assigned priority. All of the locations appear to have been scouted for 4,000-square-foot retail spaces and reside in shopping centers with nearby rail stations and street access.

The D-list consists of lots in Nanba, Osaka; Chiba; and Shizuoka. Meanwhile, the non-prioritized listings included Takamatsu, Kagawa; Kumamoto; Okayama; Niigata; and Kagoshima.

Plans and Timelines

It's currently unclear how many of these locations will eventually become stores, as the Apple documents do not specify time-frames or confirmation of lease signings.

While sources do not foresee Apple rolling out two dozen stores in Japan, they expect the company to continue to make its way down the list over the next several years. The list is topped by the currently operating Ginza, Tokyo retail store and future Shinsaibahi, Osaka retail store, respectively. Stores in Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Umeda make up the remainder of the top five locations and are the most likely candidates for future developments.

According to internal Apple retail rollout documents for the fiscal year, Shinsaibahi, Osaka is the only Japanese Apple Store scheduled to open by the end of 2004.