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Apple Eyeing Colorado Mall For New Store

NEW YORK -Apple is poised to become a brick and mortar retailer, with the opening of at least one store this year in a new mall in Littleton, Colo.

The leasing agent for the Aspen Grove Mall, which is now under construction, confirmed that Apple has signed a lease. Shopping Centers Today, a publication for the International Council of Shopping Centers, cited Terry McEwen, president of mall developer Memphis-based Poag & McEwen Lifestyle Centers, who stated that the 6,200-square-foot Littleton store would open in November.

Apple did not return phone calls on this issue by press time.

Mac specialty retailers have reported for more than a year that Apple was interested in making such a move. Apple has refused to openly discuss the topic.

However, in January, company CEO Steve Jobs responded to a dealer’s question on whether Apple was moving ahead with plans to open its own stores by saying, “This is America.” Retailers attending the event took this response as meaning Apple stores would become a reality.

Todd Smith, channel programs analyst for ARS, La Jolla, Calif., said Apple has been gearing up for this for some time. Some of the hints on the retail plans include the 1999 company hiring of Allen Moyer, a former Sony executive, who was a member of the party responsible for the futuristic Metreon retail-entertainment complex in San Francisco. Last year, Apple filed retail store plans with Palo Alto and Glendale, Calif., and Chicago.

In product news, Apple took a giant step toward appeasing retailers and its faithful consumers here last month, when the company rolled out CD-RW-equipped iMacs, but they have had no immediate impact on retail sales-and while the addition of the CD-RW drives was hailed as a necessity to help compete with similarly equipped PCs, Mac sales are still very soft.

Several Mac specialty retailers reported sales of Apple equipment, along with Windows-based PCs, are slow, even for this time of year.

As always, color played a major role in Apple’s design. The company broke away from its solid color schemes that took the computer world by storm during the past few years with the new models featuring Flower Power and Blue Dalmatian. These join the Indigo and Graphite models already available.

The iMac line now starts with the $899-suggested-retail, Indigo-colored unit featuring a 400MHz G3 processor, 64MB of RAM, 512K of backside cache, a 10GB hard drive, a CD-ROM drive ATI Rage Pro graphics card with 8MB of SDRAM, two FireWire ports and two USB ports. The step-up model-available in Indigo, Blue Dalmatian and Flower Power-adds a 500MHz G3 processor, 20GB hard drive and CD-RW drive with an $1,199 suggested retail price.

The top-end model-available in Graphite, Blue Dalmatian and Flower Power-has a 600MHz G3 processor, 128MB of SDRAM, 40GB hard drive and CD-RW with an ATI Rage Pro graphics card featuring 16MB of onboard SDRAM for $1,499.