Microsoft is reportedly in talks to partner with Chinese retailer Suning in an effort to distribute Windows Phones throughout the country. Suning has more than 700 stores in China and Microsoft is rumored to have agreed to give the retailer first dibs on Windows Phone and upcoming Windows 8 devices, Chinese news source QQ Finance reported recently. The deal may be imminent although it remains unclear which Windows Phone models will be sold in the country. It is also unclear how vendors are involved with the talks. Microsoft currently has a small slice of the smartphone operating system market but a big push in China could help drive momentum as it continues to battle Android and iOS for consumer interest. Research firms IDC and Gartner both predict that Windows Phone will have the second largest operating system share by 2015. Pyramid Research has even suggested the OS will surpass Android’s global share by 2013 driven by Microsoft’s new partnership with Nokia. More →
Brick and mortar shopaholics have so few places to turn for an adrenaline rush these days thanks to the advent of online shopping, but Black Friday always promises to be a battle that tests even the most seasoned shopper’s will. Anxious consumers line up early outside their retailers of choice and prepare to push, shove, crawl and even trample their way to some of the deepest discounts of the year. It’s no holds barred and things are bound to get dirty, but those who plan to work off their Thanksgiving feasts by throwing elbows and sprinting from store to store had better get their game faces on and go in prepared. Following the break, we lay out all the top tech retailers in the country and link you to the tools you need to map out your plan of attack. Good luck, be safe, and Godspeed.
While information about Apple’s new iOS app and retail plans have leaked out in various forms over the past few weeks, we now have the whole story thanks to a trusted source. On Thursday, Apple’s new retail store app for iOS will launch, and it will bring two major features with it. First, it will enable online ordering with retail store pick up. This has already started happening in a few stores in California and New York City Apple stores as well, and more stores will go live on Thursday. Hit the jump for details on what happens when you place an order through the app to pick up in a retail store nearby. More →
You are not alone if you walk into brick and mortar stores to check out a product only to turn around and buy it online later. According to a new study from Retrevo, 66% of all shoppers and 78% of smartphone owners “look at a product in a store” and then purchase the product online from a different outlet. Consumer electronics stores are taking the biggest hit; 58% of smartphone owners decide to buy products first spotted in a store online. Retrevo suggests that is because consumers feel overwhelmed with the amount of products on display. 53% of the respondents who walked into a retail electronics store could not decide what to buy. 30% of those shoppers said it was because they did not have an adequate amount of information on the products they were searching for and sales staff were of no help. Smartphones could help save stores such as Best Buy, however. 42% of shoppers use their phones to check prices while in store, 25% use smartphones to find coupons and 29% read reviews and product specs on their phone. Retrevo suggests that a carefully crafted application that provides access to the aforementioned information could help consumers stay in stores instead of heading home and buying goods online. More →
Best Buy will hire fewer temporary workers for the 2011 holiday season compared to last year, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The nationwide electronics retail chain will take on 15,000 new temporary employees, compared to the 29,000 it hired in 2010. Best Buy is not alone in its decision. Research from the management consulting firm Hay Group suggests that about 25% of U.S. retailers will hire fewer temporary employees this holiday season. “The consumer is being really careful about where he or she is spending the dollars, and I think that will continue through the holidays,” Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn told Reuters. Dunn said his company will carry the iPhone 5 and noted Best Buy expects tablets, smartphones and accessories for both to be a sales catalyst this holiday season. More →
An all-hands day has reportedly been called for nationwide T-Mobile stores on September 24th. As per a purported internal memo obtained by TmoNews, T-Mobile corporate has instructed managers to “plan for increased store business and maximum floor coverage on Saturday September 24.” Initial speculation suggested the memo may involve the iPhone 5, but that seems highly unlikely. First and foremost, some reports refer to the all-hands day as a meeting where employees may be preparing for an iPhone launch, however the memo instead refers to it as a high-volume day for T-Mobile retail stores. The launch of Apple’s iPhone 5 would certainly pull in high volumes of foot traffic, of course, but it is not expected to be released until early to mid-October. Moreover, it’s safe to say T-Mobile is expecting more than one single day of high-volume retail traffic if and when it launches the iPhone 5, and the handset will likely launch ahead of the weekend when it finally does hit store shelves. We’re not sure what T-Mobile has in store for the 24th, but odds are definitely not in the fifth-generation iPhone’s favor. More →
OfficeMax announced on Thursday that it will stock Amazon’s popular Kindle eReader in its nationwide stores beginning on August 7th. The company mentions 3G in its press release so we assume it will only carry the 3G/Wi-Fi version of the eReader and not the ad-supported “Kindle with Special Offers” model. The Kindle provides access to more than 950,000 books and offers a 6-inch E Ink display. OfficeMax did not specify the device’s price, but Amazon currently sells its 3G/Wi-Fi model for $189. Read on for the full press release. More →
It took 145 days, but Apple’s supply of iPad 2 tablets has finally caught up with demand. Purchases made from the online Apple Store will now ship within 24 hours of being placed, and the new fulfillment time applies to all six variants of the iPad 2. Since the tablet launched in the middle of March, Apple’s iPad 2 instantly became the world’s most sought after tablet. Inventory at brick and mortar Apple Stores, retail partners and at Apple’s online store depleted as fast as Apple could replenish it, and order fulfillment quotes grew as long as a month. Now, four and a half months later, fulfillment quotes have dropped to 24 hours for the first time since the iPad 2 became available on March 11th. In-store supply is still short at some heavily trafficked Apple Store locations according to reports, but most Apple Stores now have units in stock regularly, as do third-party retailers. Of course if rumors are accurate, we’re now just a few months away from seeing a new iPad launch, so enjoy those 24-hour shipping quotes while you can. More →
Apple has reached a deal with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority to open a massive Apple Store in the main terminal at Grand Central. Several publications including the New York Post reported the deal over the weekend, which Apple has been negotiating since early this year. The 23,000-square-foot retail shop will be the largest Apple Store location to date, and it will occupy the space currently inhabited by renowned chef Charlie Palmer’s Metrazur restaurant. According to the terms of the deal as reported by the Post, Apple will pay $800,000 annually for the retail space during the length of the 10-year contract. Should Apple re-sign the lease in 2021, the rent will increase to more than $1 million each year. Charlie Palmer’s restaurant group paid just over $300,000 each year for the space, the report claims. The MTA’s financial committee is expected to green-light the deal on Monday, and then it will be reviewed Wednesday by the body’s board of directors. “[The deal with Apple] has the potential to bring a great new shopping destination to iconic Grand Central Terminal and significantly increase revenues for the MTA’s transportation system,” the MTA said in a statement. The MTA expects the deal to bring in at least $5 million in profit for the agency. More →
We’ve been hearing reports that Apple would open the world’s largest Apple Store on one of New York City’s Grand Central terminal balconies since February of this year. Despite a report in May that the plan had been nixed, the dream of a 15,000 square foot store could finally become a reality. According to The New York Times, The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) board is expected to approve Apple’s bid later this week during a monthly board meeting. Apple really knew how to woo the MTA, too: buried deep in the article was a discussion about how the iPhone maker submitted its bid for the spot in “linen-lined boxes, as if it were a wedding present to transit officials.” We expect to hear more on Apple’s plans in the coming weeks. More →
Nokia’s affiliate team has confirmed that Nokia will close its UK online shop by the end of the month. In a letter to partners, the Finnish firm said, “This message is to inform you that Nokia is closing their affiliate [program]… in keeping with a strategic business decision to close down the Nokia UK online shop.” The company argued that it has been hard to compete with wireless carriers that are offering products at subsidized prices. “We are planning to close the current UK online store to simplify our channel structure and focus our resources on our key trade customers,” a Nokia spokesperson told Tech Radar. More →
Apple’s head of retail is leaving the company to become President of JC Penney, Bloomberg said in a wire report. Prior to the move, Ron Johnson lead Apple’s retail strategy and was responsible for its overall performance according to his executive bio on the Apple website. Apple’s retail business reeled in $3.19 billion in revenue last quarter, and it the company is widely heralded for its leadership in the space. Shares of JC Penney stock jumped more than 14% on the news.
HP is working on phones and tablets with built-in near-field communication (NFC) technology for mobile payments, Bloomberg reported on Monday. Much like Google Wallet, which will soon launch for the Nexus S and eventually other Android devices, HP hopes its customers will be able to use the company’s products to make mobile purchases in retail outlets. Similarly, HP has a plan to create an entire ecosystem where users will be able to to receive coupons or other benefits, such as loyalty points, from NFC-enabled advertisements. While sources told Bloomberg the products could launch by year-end, HP hasn’t been known to deliver new mobile devices to the market very quickly in the past. It’s also still unclear who the company’s mobile payment partners will be. More →