August 17, 2011, 12:15 PM

Apple’s online store goes down, the third-largest online retail site, was out for several hours today.

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Apple Inc.’s online retail site,, was down for several hours today starting at 6:35 a.m. Eastern time, according to web site performance monitoring firm Catchpoint Systems Inc.

During most of the outage, which lasted until shortly after 11 a.m. Eastern, the site offered visitors no explanation for why it was unavailable, according to Catchpoint CEO Mehdi Daoudi. For two brief periods this morning, the site displayed messages saying it was down for site maintenance, he says.

Several attempts by Internet Retailer to access the online store during the outage produced only delayed messages from Internet Explorer and Firefox web browsers that the site could not be reached.

Apple did not immediately return calls for comment. Although it’s not unusual for its online store to be temporarily down just prior to a major product launch, Apple did not make a major product announcement today.

Apple is No. 3 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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