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Apple set to open massive European flagship store in Liechtenstein

It may be one of the smallest countries in Europe, but Vaduz, Liechtenstein will soon host Apple's largest European flagship Apple Store. The store, which will be located adjacent to the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein (Liechtenstein's Museum of Modern Art) and open in September, will be even larger than London's 28,000 square-foot Regent Street Apple Store, measuring 43,000 square feet.

The first floor will be dedicated to showcasing Apple products, while the second floor will be comprised of multiple Genius Bars and staffed by over 100 multilingual Geniuses.

The third floor will reportedly be an interesting mix of technology and art, including what might be a shared theater/gallery with the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein as well as a state-of-the-art digital library using iBooks sharing. The library was added to the plans at the last minute when Apple found out Liechtenstein is one of only two countries in the world with a 100 percent literacy rate (interestingly, this is probably the reason Apple is rumored to be requiring all future iBooks to be uploaded into the iBookstore in both English and Alemannic German).

The Copenhagen Post asked Dolph Hallestrøm, Apple's Director of European Retail Strategy, why Apple would decide to put its flagship store in a country with a population of only 35,000 people instead of other larger European countries that have yet to get Apple stores (such as Denmark, Poland and Sweden, which have populations between six and forty million people). Hallestrøm said it came down to two things: economics and beauty. "Liechtenstein is a tax haven that also happens to have the second highest GDP per person in the world. All that translates into easy high-end Mac sales with plenty of add-ons and attachments like MobileMe -- all of which leads to higher per-ticket revenue. I mean, we can't give MobileMe away in the States, but they'll gladly pay for it here -- and it's all because of that GDP," Hallestrøm told The Copenhagen Post. "Also, one of Liechtenstein's main exports is veneers, and as you well know, beautiful, symmetrical, shiny things fit with Apple's image. I actually wanted to open the store in Andorra to tell you the truth, but [Apple COO and acting CEO Tim] Cook insisted on Liechtenstein after getting his teeth done here last summer."

When The Copenhagen Post asked the Leichtensteinian Ministère du Commerce et de Frukt how the country felt about Apple opening a store that will take up one percent of all the available free space in the entire country, Deputy of Frukt Hans Tschütscher said the government was happy to have such a well admired company on home soil because it would draw tourists. "We're a small country -- only eight and a half kilometers wide -- and we have much natural beauty, but let's be honest, when you can walk the length of the entire country in five hours, there's not a lot left to do after that," Tschütscher said. "We need something that will keep tourists in our country longer, and we've seen just how much time people spend in Apple stores. It's insane how many hours they'll spend playing with an iPad 2. We want that kind of retention."

In related news, Apple is set to roll out specially engraved iPad 2s individually numbered from 00,001 to 35,000 and will sell them sequentially until every citizen of Liechtenstein owns one. "That's our real goal," admitted Hallestrøm.

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