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Apple Computer Australia has confirmed that it is planning to open two avant-garde company-owned “Apple Stores” in Melbourne and Sydney.

As with the stores opened in the US, they are expected to feature multi-storey glass frontages, huge Apple logos suspended between storeys, and eye-catching glass staircases. The cost is put at many millions of Aussie dollars.

But – perhaps remembering the trouble it got into from dealers when it first tried opening its own stores in the mid 1990s – Apple Down Under has so far been coy about revealing many details of its plans.

“We have submitted concepts for the store we’d like to build in Sydney and are working with the city,” Apple spokesman John Marx  reportedly told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Apple has opened more than 170 stores worldwide, most in the US, although there are seven in Britain, four in Canada and seven in Japan. The entrance to the Fifth Avenue, New York, outlet is a 10-metre glass cube. An Apple logo is suspended in the middle of the cube with a circular staircase down into the store below. As well as Macs, iPods and other electronic gear, the stores offer “genius bars” where customers can discuss problems face-to-face with experts.

The Sydney store is planned for 77 King St,  near the corner of George St in the heart of the CBD, and will occupy the bottom three storeys in a spectacular glass-glad renovation of an exiting building. The three floors will be covered by a glass atrium, with a  glowing 10-foot Apple logo suspended between levels two and three.
 
Melbourne’s Apple Store, – a glass cube in the style of the San Francisco store —  is tipped to be one of three buildings planned for
the old Fun Factory site on the corner of Toorak Rd and Chapel St, South Yarra.

Apple resellers jacked up very effectively the last time Apple Australia, then under Steve Rust, floated the idea of a company-owned chain, beginning in Chatswood, Sydney  – and the idea was canned. Current operators seem more relaxed: Tim Kleemann, joint MD of the Next Byte chain has welcomed the opening of the Sydney store, saying it would help increase public awareness of Apple.

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