Apple Store goes down across the world

Apple's web-based storefronts are down across the world as the company struggles with an apparent server malfunction.

While the Cupertino-based company is close-lipped on precisely what the issue is, users have been reporting problems accessing the Apple Store since around midday today with glitches and timeouts galore.

In the last few minutes, the Store has completely vanished, with Apple's servers refusing to respond to requests from any prospective purchaser of Apple's shiny hardware.

Consternation is high on Twitter, with a search for 'Apple Store' finding hundreds of new messages every minute as users try to figure out why Apple is seemingly turning them - and their cash - away.

When the server does respond, users are being greeted with the traditional 'Back Soon' sticky note that normally suggests a new product is on the way - but the timing and frequent server errors suggest otherwise.

We'll bring you more information as soon as we have it.

UPDATE 16.32:

The Store is back online, although users are still reporting problems with the checkout process and occasional errors. No new products appear to have been added, and thus far there has been no word from Apple on the cause of the outage.