Retail Solutions Briefs: X-box, Apple, retail sales

Retail Solutions Briefs: X-box, Apple, retail sales

Microsoft ramps up the hype for X-box consoleMicrosoft has begun the marketing campaign for its long-awaited Xbox in Australia, appointing Spin Communications and McCann Erickson to manage public relations and advertising for the gaming console. Microsoft has yet to announce a launch date for the console, but the company is expected to make an announcement on the release at the European Trade Show in early September. The Australian release will coincide with the launch of the console on the European market. The US release is slated for November 8, with a retail price of $US299.

Customers queue to check out Apple retailThe grand opening of Apple Computer's first retail store in the US saw hundreds of eager and curious Mac users waiting hours to be the first in line.

The store, located in Washington DC, is the first of 25 that will open across the country this year, selling a full line of Apple products and over 300 third-party software titles. Another store was also opened last week in California.

The "stylish" and "functional" store is split into different sections and caters for all types of Mac users, from the curious passerby to the savvy graphic artist.

At the back of the store is the Genius Bar, where Apple experts serve bottled spring water and help customers with technical questions. All employees go through a one-month training program at Apple's home base in California and must have great interpersonal skills, according to Apple.

Online retail down in the US for the first timeFor the first time since the US Census Bureau began monitoring online retail sales in the last quarter of 1999, Internet commerce in the first three months of the year tumbled, both in terms of its overall numbers and as a percentage of the economy as a whole.

Internet retail sales dropped from $US8.7 billion in the final quarter of 2000 to $7 billion in the first quarter of this year, the agency reported. It also found that online retail sales dropped from 1.01 per cent of all retail sales in the US to 0.91 per cent. e-commerce sales dropped by 19.3 per cent, while total sales dropped 10.6 per cent.

Gartner analyst Rob Labatt said that over time the numbers may show that online retail is more mercurial than off-line. "It trended higher in the high times and now it's lower in the low times," he said.

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