11:29 AM

Apple To (Big) Apple And Boston

The New York mega-store will be open this year. Apple has been expanding its chain of retail stores as its iPod family takes off.

Apple Computer is preparing to open two retail stores in the swankiest areas of New York City and Boston. The stores will showcase the computer company's iPod players and its new Intel-based machines and will serve as outlets for its expected Apple-branded line of cell phones.

The firm's 25,000-square-foot store in New York will be housed in the underground retail plaza of the General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue opposite the Plaza Hotel and at the edge of Central Park. The Apple-watching Think Secret Web site said a 32-foot glass cube will be erected in front of the facility, which will be open 24 hours a day.

Apple has been operating a store in SoHo, but hasn't covered the New York Metropolitan area as well as it has covered the Boston region with stores. In Boston, a four-story futuristic building is to be erected across from the Prudential Center, a major upscale shopping area in the city. Apple already operates stores close to Boston, in Cambridge and Brookline.

The New York store is expected to open this spring. The Boston store may not be completed for two years, according to published sources. Apple company sources were not immediately available for comment.

Apple has been expanding its chain of retail stores as its iPod family takes off. The company has long been preparing a cell phone line and is reported to be looking at developing its own peripherals for the iPod including advanced high fidelity speakers.

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