Reports say Apple has an overnight shift planned for Apple stores this Saturday night where secret training and hardware installation will take place

This Thursday will mark Apple's 10-year anniversary in the retail business, and according to recent reports, Apple is planning something big just for the occasion. 

On May 19, 2001, the first Apple retail store opened at Tysons Corner Center in McLean, Virginia. Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave a small group of journalists a tour of the store, which was neat and simple at the time. 

Early Apple stores had a very clean and spacious look to them. There were wood floors, bright lights, high ceilings and short tables. Apple machines were placed on the tables like museum pieces, and the walls were a bright white color with Apple-related pictures hung on the walls. 

In addition, the entire room was divided into different sections for different types of hardware and software. One quarter of the room was dedicated to home and business-related machines like the Power Mac, Power Mac G4 Cube and PowerBook G4 for business, and the iMac and iBook for home. Half of the store was dedicated to music, movies, photos and kids where consumers could play with the digicams to make movies, take photos or play on computers. The last quarter of the store was called Etc. where devices like printers and scanners were located, along with the Genius Bar and a huge 10-foot video screen for demonstrations. Down the center of the store Software Alley, where digital cameras, camcorders, PDAs, MP3 players and different types of software were displayed.

A quirky yet unique feature many Apple fans may remember is the red phone, or the "hotline," which is what Genius Bar employees used to call and ask a technical question that they couldn't answer themselves. 

Many considered Apple's decision to open an Apple store in 2001 to be a gamble, since the tech giant reported several repeated quarterly losses previous to the store's opening, and other computer stores like Gateway were failing terribly at the time. But Apple went ahead with its plan, and the Tysons Corner Center store averaged 57,000 customers per day. Now, Apple has over 300 retail stores in operation, and during the fiscal 2011 second quarter, "retail revenue rose 95 percent year over year."

Today's Apple stores are not all that different from 10 years ago. The buildings still sport white walls, high ceilings and low tables with the newest machines on display. The Genius Bar is still located in the back, along with a few tables that have computers for kids to play on. But Apple has done away with the 10-foot screen and made personal work stations for personal and group demonstrations as well as workshops. In addition, Software Alley became a small wall located near the back in an effort to make some room for the newest members of the Apple family like the iPod, iPhone and iPad

Apple's 10 year celebration is only days away, and rumors are already circulating as to whether Apple will do anything special for the event. According to an anonymous source close to Apple, an overnight shift is planned for 10-15 employees from late Saturday through mid Sunday, and during this overnight shift, employees will be required to lock cell phones away in the main office, sign an NDA with Apple and place a black curtain in store windows so no one can see inside. The employees that will be present during this overnight shift will be visuals staff, a business team member, Genius Bar employees, one back-of-house employee, a few Apple specialists and a manager. 

In addition, reports state that Apple stores have received hardware to install that is to be under lock and key until Saturday night at close, and employees have had to download data from Apple corporate that was labeled "Training," but it is password-protected and will not be accessible until Saturday night for managers and employees alike. 

If these sources are correct, Apple could have something big in the works. What do you think it is?

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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