Apple Limiting Retail Store Staff Vacations Ahead of Verizon iPhone Launch?


CNET yesterday reported that it has received information from a source claiming that Apple has limited vacation time for its retail store employees over the next two months, ostensibly in order to handle crowds from a new product presumed to be the CDMA iPhone widely expected to come to Verizon. The source also indicates that Apple appears to be planning a media event for next Tuesday, January 11th, in order to introduce the device, although the window of time for an announcement of such a media event is already becoming extremely short.

During this weekend's 2011 CES, he says, Apple will steal some thunder by announcing a product-launch event on Tuesday, January 11. (That's 1/11/11, if you're into numerology.) At that event, the company will finally announce the long-awaited Verizon iPhone. (Cue "Hallelujah" chorus.)

Alas, this is all just hearsay, and while a lot of it seems reasonable--likely, even--there's still no official word from either Apple or Verizon.

My tipster, citing a close relative who works high up the Apple food chain, said the new iPhone will be CDMA-based (no surprise there) and ship in February. He also noted that Apple was limiting staff vacation time for January and February, ostensibly to handle a sharp increase in sales and service traffic.

We received a similar tip a few days ago claiming a January 11th announcement for the Verizon iPhone with availability set for February, although we have been unable to confirm its accuracy. With the rumored event just five days away, time is running short for Apple to notify members of the media in time to make travel arrangements, and we are thus somewhat skeptical of the claim at this point. Apple typically offers approximately one-week notice regarding its media events.

In support of CNET's claims regarding restrictions on Apple retail sore employee vacations, AppleInsider reports that it has heard similar rumblings, with the vacation blackout apparently spanning the last week of January and the first two weeks of February.

People familiar with the company's retail plans say Apple has issued a "blackout" period spanning three weeks, during which retail employees without seniority will not be allowed vacation time. That blackout period is said to begin the last week of January and continue into the first half of February.

Apple is also said to have retained many of its temporary holiday employees for its retail stores in anticipation of continuing strong business in their stores.

The reason for Apple's vacation blackout is not yet officially known, although the Verizon iPhone is likely the strongest candidate with a second-generation iPad also registering as a possibility.

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