Apple Stores Working on “Something Big” This Weekend, Report

Apple's Cloudy Crystal BallApple may be planning “something big” for the 10th anniversary of the opening of the first Apple Store in 2001, according to a report from Boy Genius Reports. What that something is isn’t at all clear, but the site claimed an unnamed “solid source” described elaborate plans at the company’s fleet of retail stores that include a surprise overnight shift, black curtains on the store front, hardware to install in the stores, and gigabytes of password protected training materials to download.

First let’s look at the plans Apple reportedly has in the works. The company will have 10-15 employees working an overnight shift starting on Saturday night. These employees will include a wide variety of staff roles from within the retail ranks (a manager, Geniuses, visuals staff, and more). During the shift, employees will have to lock their cellphones in the manager’s office, and they must sign an NDA to even work the shift to begin with.

BGR also said that some hardware has already been delivered to stores under lock and key, where it is to remain until Saturday. More hardware and other materials are expected to arrive later this week, and this is supposedly gear to be installed in the Apple Stores, as opposed to inventory of some new product.

Apple will also be putting up black curtains in the store fronts of its stores to keep prying eyes out while the employees work on these plans, and some employees have had to download “gigabytes” of training materials that is password protected. No one will actually receive a password to open this material, not even managers, until Saturday afternoon.

This may not actually be some kind of event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the retail stores, per se. Apple opened up its first Apple Store in McLean, VA on May 19th, 2001, and a quick check of the calendar shows that the overnight work will begin on Saturday, May 21st, two days after the anniversary. On the other hand, Friday the 20th has the double bonus of being all but the actual anniversary, while matching Apple’s usual pattern of releasing new products at the end of the week.

Furthermore, BGR said that staff meetings will be held throughout Sunday; one might presume to assume that this will involve all those training materials, which really suggests that Apple is planning to unveil whatever it is unveiling on either Sunday itself or Monday, May 22nd. It could come later in the week, but it would be uncharacteristic of Apple to attach so much secrecy to its plans and then give all the newly trained little birds time to sing about what they’ve learned.

This report dovetails nicely with a report from AppleInsider on April 20th that said Apple had blacked out retail store employee vacations from May 20th, through the 22nd, which lends some credence to BGR’s report.

Be that as it may, it would seem that Apple is either going to deliver a surprise product update, launch some kind of retail store promotion, or perhaps even launch its much-rumored service.

Indeed, that’s the only rumored new product or service that has been making the rounds with a nearish time frame, though much of the speculation surrounding iCloud has centered around a WWDC launch in June.

We can throw in the trouble Apple has been having with MobileMe in the past couple of days as a modest and circumstantial bit of added evidence that the company is nearer than we might have thought to launching its new cloud-based service, and if it is iCloud, perhaps the new hardware being installed in the Apple Store locations is network related.

Whatever the case, if BGR’s source is correct, there should be a serious intensification of rumors, leaks, and probably even controlled leaks from Apple itself over the next several days heading up to this big weekend overnight shindig.