The online Apple Store went offline worldwide
for almost five hours beginning just after midnight (ET) on Friday until nearly 5AM ET. The long downtime, just slightly above average for a significant store downtime event, is sometimes indicative of a product refresh or addition, though in this case it appears to have been for minor site update to emphasize the current "Back to School"
gift card and accessories promotion. No new or refreshed product turned up, though the last time the store was down for such an xtended period was for five hours on June 10, adding the latest MacBook Air models.
Apple began its Back to School offer earlier this month
, offering mostly the same gift card rebates as last year with the exception of adding the iPhone to the list of items that qualify for a $50 gift card, good for anything on the iTunes, App, Mac App or iBookstore. Mac buyers can qualify for a $100 gift card. To be eligible, the buyer must be a student or parent of a student registered in a K-12 or higher learning institution, a teacher or school staff member.
Apple has returned to offering a number of rebates or discounts on select printer models as well this year. The promotion runs through September 6.