updated 11:54 am EDT, Tue September 18, 2012
California, Spain, Germany, France, and Italy getting new shops
Apple is preparing to open five new Apple Stores this week. The first is the Rio Shopping outlet, based in Valladolid, Spain. That shop will launch at 10AM local time on Thursday, likely in anticipation of the iPhone 5's debut on Friday. Three stores elsewhere will in fact launch at 8AM on Friday, an unusually early hour reserved for iPhone rollouts.
Among these is the Sindelfingen location just outside of Stuttgart, Germany. Earlier this month the store was said to have had its opening moved from the 22nd to the 20th, but the official date is indeed the 21st; the 20th may have been referring to a media preview event. Other shops planned for Friday include La Toison d'Or in Dijon, France, and Valley Plaza in Bakersfield, California. The latter will fill a gap in California coverage; even though Apple already has 51 other stores in the state -- more than France, Spain, and Germany combined -- there are some 800,000 people in Bakersfield, which until this week was almost 90 minutes away from the next closest Apple Store.
Opening at 9AM the day after the iPhone 5 premiere is the Il Leone outlet in Lonato, Italy. The country won't be getting the iPhone 5 until the 28th, and so Apple has no immediate pressure to throw open the shop's doors.
Apple often times store launches to coincide with the introduction of new products, since it offers advantages like extra publicity, greater reach, and/or a higher profit on sales versus working with third-party retailers.