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As the public readies to ooh and aah over products at its spacious Fifth Avenue Apple Store, praise is being given to Apple vice president Ron Johnson for his retailing and merchandising innovations. The NY Times looks at his background, which includes Mervyns then 16 years at Target (when Steve Jobs told him Apple "is one of the biggest brands in the world," Johnson told him then the stores should be big) Forrester says that Apple Store revenue was $2489 per square foot, whereas it's $971 at a Best Buy; Apple says Target averages $300 per square foot. But Target isn't paying for sweet retail space.

The only 24-hour Apple Store in the world opens at 6PM tonight, and they are giving away one Macbook every hour for 24 hours (here are the rules) - are you headed there? And a cool factoid: 5,000 people applied for the 300 jobs at the Fifth Avenue store (hello, discount!). Our post on the Fifth Avenue Apple Store preview (so pretty!) and here are all the Google News stories on the store. And New Yorkers, you're so lucky - you don't have to book airline tickets to make a pilgrimage to the store the way these people are.

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Photograph of the Apple Store cube from Neil Epstein's Flickr set, and the cube at night from kumaw's Flickr set

UPDATE: A post on TUAW tells us that Steve Jobs is in the house. All hail! shap43's images on flickr.

UPDATE:
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It's open! If your going, please be safe - and be sure to take pictures! Tag them on flickr with gothamist for us, so we can all join in on the fun. Above shot from yesthatkarim on flickr. [Side bar: We think Flickr is down because of all the people uploading their Apple Store pictures! It's our only theory, but, by golly, it's got legs!]

Oh snap-- AP's got the money shot of Steve Jobs in front of the cube-- never before have fans of mock-turtlenecks, modern architecture and computers had so much to celebrate at once! [Photos below by Jon Simon/AP]

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UPDATE: Apple.com has an INSANE time lapse quicktime of the crowd. Definitely worth checking out. We're kinda shocked that there isn't a webstream of the event, since 60% of Apple's computer products in the store come with built in iSights.