Technology

What's Up With Apple: Store Closures, Return to Office Delay, $3 Trillion and More

On Tuesday, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) announced that customers at its Apple Stores would be required to wear masks again. On Wednesday, the company said it would temporarily close three U.S. and Canadian stores following an increase in coronavirus infections among the stores’ employees.

Miami’s Brickell City Centre store; the Annapolis, Maryland, store; and the Apple Store in downtown Ottawa will be closed, and Apple said that all store employees would be tested for COVID-19 before the stores reopen. According to a Bloomberg report, coronavirus-related store closures typically end after a few days.

Temporary closures had earlier been imposed at a Texas store and one in South Carolina.

Apple also announced Wednesday that it has dumped its plan to have employees return to their offices on February 1. The company also said that it has set no date for the return. Employees were notified in a memo from CEO Tim Cook:

We are delaying the start of our hybrid work pilot to a date yet to be determined. Our offices remain open and many of our colleagues are coming in regularly, including our teams in Greater China and elsewhere.

Apple has previously announced (in June, September, October and January) that its employees would have to work from their offices for at least three days a week. The company also has said that it will give employees at least four weeks’ advance notice of the return date.

The better news for Apple employees is that Cook took the occasion of the memo to announce that the company would pay every employee a $1,000 bonus that could be used to meet work-from-home expenses. The bonus also will be awarded to retail store employees.

Wednesday’s announcement of the Federal Reserve’s plans to reduce its asset purchases by around half, along with a forecast for three increases to the Fed’s interest rate, gave investors and traders an early Christmas present. Apple stock, which had been trading down by about 0.8% prior to the announcement, closed the day 2.85% higher to $179.30. The stock traded up about 0.8% in Thursday’s premarket session at $180.70 and needs to reach $182.85, according to CNN, in order to gain a market value of $3 trillion. Apple stock has risen by nearly 36% so far in 2021.

Briefly noted:

Chinese smartphone maker Oppo revealed its Air Glass assisted Reality (aR) device on Tuesday. Air Glass enables “four different user interactions through touch, voice, head movement, and hand motion, allowing users to have faster and easier access to the information they need.” Air Glass will only be sold in China beginning in the first quarter of 2022 and is available in either a monocle or full-frame version. No price was mentioned.