Apple's 5pm launch time this Friday for the iPad 2 raises an interesting question: what happens in those Apple retail stores which would normally shut at 5:30pm? The answer appears to be: they'll be shutting on schedule.
We mentioned in our post on local iPad 2 prices that several Apple stores — namely Castle Hill, Charlestown, Chatswood, Chermside and Robina — normally don't open past 5:30pm on a Friday. That could make a 5pm launch tricky in those locations.
We contacted Apple to ask if there would be extended hours in those stores and got the following rather unhelpful response:
We would recommend customers contact their local store to confirm opening times.
So I rang all the stores in question. There's an automated menu option for opening hours, which for every store on this list confirmed the 5:30pm closing time on Fridays, while recommending visiting the individual store web sites to check for "special events". Checking on those sites showed no public plans to extend the hours either.
I can well imagine that the stores may have to stay open a little longer to deal with customers, but there really doesn't seem to be any formal plan to extend hours to deal with iPad 2 enthusiasts. If you've actually been into one of these stores this week and heard something different about the hours, we'd love to hear about it in the comments.