FORTUNE -- Queen Emma of The Netherlands, who in 1879 married a man once described as "the greatest debauchee of the age," used to buy her gowns in the building that now houses Apple's (AAPL) retail presence in Amsterdam. So did her daughter, Queen Wilhelmina. And so did Wilhelmina's daughter, Queen Juliana.
In its heyday, the building Leo Hirsch erected on the Leidseplein to bring Paris fashion to Holland was "a temple of infinite bliss," according to a contemporary press release, "a cathedral of earthly almost heavenly pleasures."
The great wars of the 20th century were not kind to Hirsch & Co. The Nazis took over the building, carted off the clothes and killed its Jewish managers. But it was the jeans-and-T-shirt fashions of 60s that finally did the company in. A bank and then a law firm moved into the old Hirsch building. The marble columns were torn out. By the time Apple negotiated its lease, the space was being used for art openings.
Today, the building is once more a vibrant retail space and something of a destination in busy Amsterdam -- especially with students who like to park their bikes in front of its giant convex window and grab some free Wi-Fi.
"It's the best Internet cafe in Amersterdam," says Apple staffer Arun Gangadien, who took me on a tour and showed me the public WCs -- a nice customer-relations touch.
It's a huge store -- Apple's biggest in Europe, according to the company. It occupies two high-ceilinged floors, separated by a Steve Jobs-patented glass spiral staircase and softly lit by a two-story atrium.
I counted 67 display tables, not including the 30-stool Genius Bar on the second level that is reputed to be the longest in the world. In the atrium space alone there are nine tables filled with iPad minis set aside for public access to the Internet.
I did three separate traffic counts: at noon (5.3 per minute), 3 p.m. (10 per minute) and 6 p.m. (6 per minute), which is not bad for the day after Easter Monday. It's almost as good as the Paris Opéra store on its busiest day (11 per minute on a Saturday).
In a snapshot count at 3 p.m., the iPhone tables on the street level were drawing the most interest (14 visitors), followed by iPads (5), Macs (4), iPods (3) and the Internet tables (3).
The real action was upstairs, where between the Genius Bar and the tables set aside for configuration, startup, training, workshops and accessories I counted 69 customers.
A marketing manager named Ryan caught up with me in the afternoon to show off some of the features I would otherwise have missed. Because the space had been stripped of all the pre-war Hirsch & Co. details -- including a grand staircase and the original three-story atrium -- Apple had to reconstruct it all from scratch using historic photographs as reference.
The marble columns were reproduced in plaster. The brass and wrought-iron railings were hand-made by the same French company that did the balcony at Paris Opéra. Heating and cooling ducts are hidden in spaces in the ceiling whose width had to be carefully calibrated (too wide and they'd draw attention to themselves; too narrow, and they would hiss.)
He, like all the green-shirted Apple staffers I met (Tuesday was Earth Day), was justly proud of how Apple has brought the old royal fashion house back to life with good taste and some class.
I couldn't help thinking: This is the kind of thing that happens when a company is sitting on $124 billion in tax-sheltered cash that can only be spent outside the U.S.
The average forecast of 40 analysts: Earnings up 2.4% year over year, revenue down 0.2%.
FORTUNE -- With one day to go before Apple (AAPL) is scheduled to report its earnings for the March quarter – Q2 in Apple's fiscal year -- the expectations of the analysts polled for Fortune's quarterly round-up are not high.
In fact, they're either flat or down across the board according to the 40 analysts we've heard from so far. MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 22, 2014 8:17 AM ET
Tim Cook responds to criticism from environmentalists with a video message of his own.
FORTUNE -- Apple (AAPL) continues to come under pressure from environmentalists and human rights groups to clean up its act.
Currently making the rounds on college campuses is filmmaker Heather White's Who Pays the Price, a 9:30-minute video that begins in the style of a soft-voiced Apple promo ("This is what matters. The experience of a product. Will it make life better...") but quickly MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 21, 2014 1:50 PM ET
Average estimate: $10.32 per share on sales of $43.5B. Apple's guidance: $42 to $44B.
FORTUNE -- Apple's (AAPL) share price got clobbered in after-hours trading three months ago when the company announced its earnings for the Christmas quarter. The problem was not the record sales of Macs, iPads and iPhones -- although the iPhone numbers came in a bit lighter than expected.
No, what knocked nearly $45 billion off Apple's market cap that night was MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 21, 2014 3:22 AM ET
Estimates range from $4 billion to nearly $5 billion, but growth continues to slow.
FORTUNE -- Apple's (AAPL) No. 4 revenue stream -- after the iPhone, iPad and Mac -- is a line item the company calls iTunes, Software and Services.
The category is something of a hodgepodge -- a grab bag where the company tosses, to quote from a footnote in its SEC filings, "revenue generated by sales on the iTunes Store, the App Store, the Mac App Store and the iBookstore, plus revenue from sales MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 20, 2014 2:29 AM ET
The estimates range from 3.7 million to 4.8 million. Average: 4 million, up 2.8% from 2013.
FORTUNE -- Once Apple's (AAPL) biggest money maker, the Mac at 12% of total revenue is now No. 3 after the iPhone (52%) and iPad (20%).
[No. 4 at 7.6% and climbing fast is the category Apple calls "iTunes, Software and Services."]
The good news for the axis of Apple's digital hub strategy is that the year-over-year declines the Mac suffered for MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 19, 2014 5:26 AM ET
The analysts' estimates range from 15 million to nearly 22 million. Average: 19.3 million.
FORTUNE --Although the heyday of the iPad -- when it basically owned the tablet computer market -- may be over, the product line is still Apple's (AAPL) second most important source of revenue, holding steady at roughly 20% of total sales.
With growing competition and the rise of the phablet (mini-tablets that double as phones), nobody is expecting a repeat of MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 18, 2014 6:57 AM ET
The analysts' estimates range from 34 million to nearly 43 million. Average: 38.2 million.
FORTUNE -- In the analysts' notes to investors leading up to Apple's (AAPL) quarterly earnings report next week, the iPhone is topic No. 1.
And with good reason. iPhone sales remain the company's single biggest source of revenue -- 52.6% of total revenues, to be specific, at this time last year.
In a note issued Wednesday, Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi rattled off a list MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 17, 2014 2:02 AM ET
Remember those snarky TV spots mocking Apple customers waiting in line for an iPhone?
FORTUNE -- Here's an interesting sequence of events, buried between the lines of a Samsung e-mail trail that Apple (AAPL) entered into evidence as part of its big patent infringement suit, now in its third week.
-- Oct. 4, 2011: From Samsung's VP of U.S. sales Mike Pennington to Samsung America CEO Dale Sohn and chief marketing officer Todd Pendleton.
"As you have shared MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 16, 2014 2:45 AM ET
Samsung's argument that Apple attacked the wrong company could resonate with the jury.
FORTUNE -- Watching Apple's (AAPL) patent infringement trial from afar -- today, it's from Prague -- I can't tell if the jury got as clear an explanation of where Apple's so-called "quick link" software came from as the one Daniel Eran Dilger posted Sunday on AppleInsider (How Samsung & Google teamed up to steal Apple Data Detectors for Android).
But reading Dilger's deep dive into the history of the technology I'm MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 14, 2014 4:11 AM ET
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