Apple takes aim at government, defence and media

Apple Computer has signalled its intent to play hardball in courting the Australian government and military space. The vendor has announced Tony King as its new Asia-Pacific managing director as well as a specialist Canberra-based sales unit.

King, formerly head of IBM's Australian PC division, started the new post on July 14 and was immediately quarantined from the media for the time being to allow him to get his "head around the business", according to Apple's Australian marketing director Arno Lenior.

Computerworld understands that a significant part of King's brief as MD will be to make substantial inroads into the traditionally Apple resistant circles of government where the company sees niche opportunities in the computation-intensive workstation, visualisation, audio visual application and imaging markets.

Apple appears set to pitch its new 64-bit G5 desktop beast, due to ship in Australia in August, at the government space: most likely as a low cost alternative to more traditional multiprocessor offerings from the likes of SGI.

Australian pricing for the G5 ranges from $5599 for the dual processor 2GHz model with dual independent 1GHz frontside buses and capacity for 8GB of RAM, down to $3599 for a single processor version.

Apple sources have also confessed to a Department of Defence implementation of an Apple-based cluster computing project, the details of which it refuses to divulge other than that the project is "not located in Canberra", at the G5 launch last week.

Another enterprise area where Apple is also understood to be enjoying significant high-end growth is the professional video and effects market in Australia. While growth figures in this sector are notoriously hard to come by, a recent influx of work from US and European studios combined with a local recovery in the media and advertising production appears to be driving local dividends for Apple.

Pay TV channel Fox Footy has recently deployed a combined Apple and Final Cut Pro editing solution, and the digitisation and expansion of the Foxtel network over the next 12 months is also expected to yield sales, both through equipment upgrades and as the volume of programming increases up to five-fold.

There is still no word on whether Apple's music content sales portal, iTunes - which has music antipiracy campaigners scratching their heads - will launch in Australia in the foreseeable future.