Apple might have scored an own goal down-under by culling its channel savagely and pushing its own retail model.
Last year, Apple fired more than 200 Australian resellers. Many of them had been selling Apple gear for years. The sackings came without warning or explanation.
One Sydney reseller told CRN Australia that all he got was a two line email terminating his reseller status. It ended his connection to Apple which brought $5 million worth goods to Australian businesses, health organisations and not-for-profits.
Another reseller who was dropped from Apple’s list was Sydney reseller Complete PC Solutions. Director Frank Triantafyllou said Apple made up figures which claimed his outfit had not sold enough products. Not only was that untrue, but what he found was that Apple was not really behaving like a partner.
His company often found he was competing against Apple’s own sales team and would find that product was not being made available for him to sell.
In one case he wanted 100 iPads for a school customer but was told by Apple he wasn’t authorised to supply that particular product.
The feeling down under is that Apple has peaked and it is losing business opportunities because it can’t handle the channel. The reason it can’t handle its channel is because it can’t give up control.
Apple’s policy appears to be one of forcing customers to go direct. This is helped by the development of its own retail channel. While this boosts the company at a local level it means the loss of huge numbers of sales.
Apple also failed to notice that those 200 resellers suddenly turned from committed advocates to actively hostile competition.
What the resellers have done is to recommend to their installed base of customers products which are not blessed by Apple. Talking up the merits of rival products seems to be working.
For example, HP’s ElitePad business tablet is being pushed for having a number of superior features for businesses, including better touch control, better keyboard, battery life, faster processing and of course Windows 8 and Flash compatibility.
Instead of pushing Apple, they have established an idea, which we are seeing among Apple resellers in Europe too, that Apple is a spent force.
One Roman reseller, which had been a keen Apple supplier for a decade, said that he started recommending other products because Apple’s time was over.
“It used to be that Apple was seen as infallible, and perhaps under Steve Jobs it was, but now cracks are appearing,” he told ChannelEye. “We could have put up with them being arrogant before, but now it is just annoying.”