SYDNEY, 13 NOVEMBER 2009 - Apple says it plans to open 40 to 50 retail stores next year as the consumer electronics giant expands its reach to customers.
More than half of these new stores are expected to be opened outside the U.S in countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France, and China.
Apple will open its sixth Australian store at the Westfield shopping centre in the Brisbane suburb of Chermside this Saturday.
It will be Apple's second store in Queensland. The first one was opened in Robina on the Gold Coast in May.
Apple opened its first store in the Australia (and the southern hemisphere) in Sydney in June 2008.
Speaking ahead of a store opening in New York, Ron Johnson, Apple's senior vice president of retail, said the company expects the holiday selling season to be a good one.
Apple now operates 280 stores in 10 countries.
The stores, first launched in 2001, have proved to be hugely popular with consumers. Apple hosted 45.9 million store visitors during the September quarter, up 7 per cent from a year earlier.
The stores posted revenue of $US1.87 billion in the quarter, their highest level ever and up 9 per cent from a year earlier.
Apple increases smartphone share
Apple has surpassed rival Nokia to become the most profitable handset vendor for the first time on the strength of its popular iPhone, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.
Apple's third-quarter operating profit from iPhone sales was $1.6 billion, while Nokia had operating profit of $1.1 billion from its handset unit, said the report.
Nokia is struggling to hang on to its leading position in smartphones as competition increases from Apple, Research in Motion's BlackBerry and Motorola's Droid. According to researcher Gartner, Nokia lost six percentage points of smartphone market share, to 39.3 per cent, in the third quarter as it posted its first-ever quarterly loss.
Apple enlarged its share of smartphones to 17.1 per cent from 12.9 per cent a year earlier as it expanded in Europe; Research In Motion grew to 20.8 per cent.
Smartphone makers sold 12.8 per cent more units in the third quarter as overall global mobile phone sales increased 0.1 percent, Gartner said. (with agencies)
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