Clearly demonstrating the broadened appeal of Apple computers in both homes and small business, the company's largest Australian reseller group, Mac's Place, has opened its sixth store in Melbourne's Box Hill.
This follows quickly from the fifth store it opened in September at Dee Why in Sydney.
Mac's Place managing director Scott Thompson said the group has been growing consistently since commencing operations in 1993.
"That growth has increased exponentially as Apple's products have clearly got significantly better in the last 18 months," Thompson said. "Therefore there has a been a hefty increase in demand from both existing users and a whole lot of new users.
"Markets and geographies that weren't relevant two years ago during what I call 'the dark years' are now crying out for this product."
Thompson said that where users in the past tended to be either devotees of the brand or specialist users such as graphic artists, Apple is now a relevant alternative to a large number of home and small business customers.
Additionally, the return en masse of the software developer community and the emergence of the Rage graphics card are helping make the Mac OS the "premium desktop gaming platform" which has also stimulated popularity, he said.
While new products becoming available soon are expected to provide a further boost to the brand's popularity, Thompson said there are no further stores planned in the near future.
"We are expecting a lot of business to be generated by new products," Thompson said. "We have already taken a lot of orders for iBook which is a product customers are committing to unseen. I want to get the two new stores bedded down for Christmas and then we will look into further expansion next year. We are expecting a very good Christmas," he added.
Thompson said the biggest inhibitor at this stage to further expansion is the difficulty in finding quality salespeople to keep the stores adequately manned in today's seven-day-a-week shopping environment.
"Technical people we don't really have too much of a problem with," he said. "It is always a bit of a challenge to find people who really love the product and want to sell it and as you roll out more stores this becomes an issue."