Following months of industry speculation, Apple has finally launched its first retail store in Palo Alto, California, and may have two more shops in the pipeline.

The reports first broke last week in the San Jose Mercury News. The paper reports that Apple's first own-brand store will fill a 6,500-square-foot facility, and will be a prototype for Apple stores in other areas.

Though Apple sources have refused to comment, industry insiders have speculated for months that Apple could be planning to open up retail centres in the US, and possibly internationally too. Apple is not alone in this, personal-computer manufacturer Gateway now has a chain of 315 stores in the US.

The Mercury uncovered the news through the Palo Alto architectural review board, which saw a preview of the store's design, Macweek reports. The building will apparently feature two white Apple logos on glass doors.