Apple fights off channel concerns

As the dust settles from the collapse of one of its long-established AppleCentre operators (ARN December 8 Page 6), Apple has moved to allay potential reseller concerns about its channel strategy.

While Apple Australia itself is riding the wave of success, it reports it is carefully managing the sales growth as well as the growth of its channels.

One of the channel's concerns, however, appears to centre on Apple's online direct selling Apple Store.

Apple's channel manager, Kevin McElduff, said the online component supports the company's retail business model, generating leads and business for its retailers and resellers.

"Apple Australia believes that there will always be a need for the physical buying experience because people want to touch and feel," he said. McElduff also described the online Apple Store as a marketing tool.

McElduff's comments come as Apple resellers become more familiar with some of the problems experienced by the mainstream IT channel and express concerns along well-worn subject lines such as margin squeeze and channel conflict.

McElduff admitted margin squeeze is regularly a topic on the agenda at its quarterly reseller forum.

According to McElduff, allowing for currency and freight, there is global price parity in Apple product.

He said that margins are segment-based, and AppleCentres all buy at the same price. "It has to be a competitive structure. If our offering is not sufficient, our resellers will move to other vendors," he said.

And while corporate affairs manager Myrna Van Pelt again asserted Apple's commitment to its channel partners, McElduff claimed that there is a business opportunity for any reseller that can add business, particularly in vertical market segments. "It's certainly not restricted to the consumer market," he said.

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