Apple’s online stores have been hit with an extended outage today, leading to speculation as to what might be behind the downtime. According to various reports and iLounge observations, the U.S. online store went down sometime prior to 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time this morning, and is still down at the time of this posting. Additionally, Apple’s normal placeholder image—“We’ll be back soon”—is rarely being seen, as the site is not loading at all for most users. As most online Apple Store outages feel carefully structured, coinciding with anticipated product launches, the disappearance of the Store this morning suggests that Apple may be facing data center or network problems, or that a significant backend overhaul is taking place. We’ll update this story when the store reappears to report on any changes.
Update: The store is back up in some areas and appears to be loading faster than before, but no other changes are immediately noticeable.