As has been widely emailed by our crack readers, the Apple Store is down as of midnight. We'd chalk this up to actual maintenance, but since it is officially Tuesday on the US East Coast, we'll give it the new-product benefit of the doubt. Some items, including Airport Express units and the Mac Mini, have been reported in limited availability mode for a while, so it's possible that we'll see some revisions come daylight. We also have been told that the iPod touch January Update is mysteriously unavailable for purchase at the moment (thanks Will!) so perhaps that's in play as well. Of course, it could just be, you know, maintenance.
The question must be considered: are the Apple Store outages really technically necessary to update the store content, or are they a form of grass-roots marketing that primes the buying audience for something new? After all, Amazon, Dell and Newegg add products constantly and never seem to stall into these extended cones of silence. Is the Tuesday lacuna just a passive-aggressive way to get our attention, like a child throwing a sulk?
Recently, former Apple staffer Chuq von Rospach suggested via a Twitter response to Shawn King that the architecture of the Apple Store really, truly does require extended downtime to make changes to the product lineup. If that's the case, then this is an astonishingly powerful argument for the existence of the RDF -- only a marketing force capable of warping the fabric of space could turn an engineering flaw into self-generating hype with every minor tweak of the product line.
Update 7 am ET: Looks like it was only maintenance after all.
Thanks to everyone who sent this in!