Apple Europe stores down, possible new product on the way

Europe could be set to get a new Apple product, with all European Apple stores down with the familiar “We’ll be back soon” note, which is usually a sign of an incoming addition.

Apple is clearly adding something new to its webstores, rather than simple maintenance, which would not be going on simultaneously throughout Europe. However, the US and other world stores are still operating as normal, suggesting that this may be an exclusively European release.

But what could Apple be planning? It could have a new size for the MacBook Air, which is currently available in 11-inch and 13-inch versions. It’s unlikely to be an entirely new device, which would see a launch to much fanfare to an Apple event, but the company has often released new sizes or versions of current products on its websites after some downtime.

It may not even be hardware at all, but a new software addition, such as iLife 11, iMovie 11, and an update to GarageBand, all of which were promised at the Back to the Mac event only a few weeks ago.

The iOS4.2 update is also on the cards, with expectations of a release within the next few days or weeks, possibly to coincide with and compete against Google’s impending Android 3.0 release. However, it’s unlikely that the store would be taken offline for a software update that doesn’t actually require a purchase, so our bet is a new device or software package.

According to some reports, the US Store was taken down on the Halloween weekend, only to be put back online with no noticeable changes. Should the same occur in Europe, which seems unlikely, could this be the end of the traditional pre-new product downtime?