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Chicago to host fourth Apple retail outlet

Gap-style strategy coming together at last

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Updated Apple is hoping to move into a gap vacated by... er... Gap - and it's going to open one of its High Street retail stores there, the first such opening outside California to be revealed.

The store's location is Chicago, on the corner of Michigan and Huron. The story comes from local paper Chicago Business, which claims the Mac maker is currently in negotiations to lease the 28,000sq ft property.

The store will be located alongside the likes of Armani, Hugo Boss, the Disney Store and the Virgin Megastore, our Chicago readers tell us, so you can see the kind of market profile Apple is gunning for.

CB's source reckons the Chicago outlet will open next spring, presumably at the same time that Apple opens the three stores it is known to be preparing in Palo Alto, Glendale and another location in California.

The Palo Alto store, for one, is definitely on the cards, Apple's planning application having been confirmed by the city's chief planning officer. At this stage, it's unclear whether the other California stores are works-in-progress or earlier mooted sites.

The addition of the Chicago store suggests that what originally appeared to be a small, local trial run may indeed be the basis for a nationwide roll-out. Searches in the planning offices of other major US cities may well reveal other locations on which Apple is planning to open stores.

Apple has yet to comment on the retail plan, though rumours doing the rounds last summer pointed at next January's MacWorld Expo, held in San Francisco, as the most likely place and time for the plan's announcement. However, with the stores not opening until spring - coincidentally, one projected ship date for MacOS X 1.0 - and given the opening of the chain would mark a major shift in Apple's retail channel strategy, we wonder if the company will do a one-off announcement the better to tickle Wall Street's fancy. ®

Related Link

The Chicago Business story

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