Apple launches online store in NZ

Reaction in the channel is split over what effect the anticipated launch of an Apple online store in New Zealand will have on its business.

The Apple division of Renaissance, the brand’s de facto face in New Zealand, is currently testing the site through which it will sell Apple products, as well as complementary software and hardware, such as printers and digital still and video cameras, directly to end-users.

Although the division has, in the past, sold equipment directly to the education and government markets it will be its first contact with consumers without a channel partner.

And according to one Apple reseller, which did not want to be named, channel partners are fuming and see the development as a move by the distributor to compete directly with them for business.

The source refutes claims that Renaissance is launching the site based on a directive from Apple in the US.

Apple did not have a stake in the local operation, which was a fully-owned Renaissance division, and could not force the distributor’s hand, the source said.

“Renaissance is very selective as to when to act like an Apple subsidiary or a distributor,” the reseller said. This sentiment ran through the Apple channel.

But Murray Wood of MagnumMac is not as vehement about the store.

He said that while he did not welcome it with open arms he understood it was based on a directive from the US.

Nevertheless, Wood said most customers would not forsake personal contact and being able to touch and feel products when investing in high-end technology.

Director of ATL Systems, Mike Milne, said the store would not threaten the company’s business as an integrator. “Our personal relationships with customers, and our deep understanding of their infrastructure allow us to deliver solutions that online stores can’t match,” he said.

“We are a big supporter of Apple — it is trying to meet the demands of customers. That is a worthy goal.”

Milne said Apple online stores overseas had grown the overall market, which would benefit both Apple and its New Zealand resellers.

“People may go to the site to see what is on offer, but then come to us to provide set-up, support and integration,” he said.

Managing director of Renaissance and head of the Apple division, Paul Johnston, said experiences in the US and Australia had shown this to be the case.

He did, however, concede that there might be some resentment in the channel over the online store, but stated that Renaissance manages Apple in New Zealand as an Apple subsidiary would, and was compelled to follow directives from Apple in the US.

“It has to be clear that it is the Apple Division and not Renaissance itself that will operate the store," he said. "Renaissance as a distributor remains totally channel focused.”

Johnston said the store would be launched in phases, and was expected to go online in a matter of weeks with limited functionality.

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