Merchants seek forbidden fruit

Merchants seek forbidden fruit

Major retailers in Australia have been knocking down the doors at Apple trying to get into one of the most closely guarded channels in the business. However, the word from Apple is that despite wanting to maximise the penetration of its highly popular iMac, at this stage there are no plans to return to mass merchants.

Myrna Van Pelt, Apple's local corporate affairs manager, told ARN last week it is "looking at expanding" its retail options and is "actively being pursued by interested parties" which include mass merchants and other channel players.

"Because of the popularity of the iMac and the G3 since we launched them, there have been a load of calls for them to be available in other retail centres," Van Pelt said.

"At the moment, we are still evaluating where we should go.

"We have a clear direction in terms of our retail strategy and it will be implemented in due course. The Apple channel will always be our flagship retail solution," she said.

Apple products have been in Harvey Norman before in an experiment that failed to reach the level of service and dedication demanded by the vendor.

Apple Australia is currently faced with a retail dilemma which would be the envy of most vendors. Expanding out of its traditional independent channel risks alienating old loyalties. On the other hand, failing to embrace mass merchants is ignoring potentially huge retail sales.

Van Pelt said Apple resellers do "an excellent job" and the vendor is "very happy" with the way its channel is performing.

"However, the growing popularity of our prod- ucts certainly puts pressure on us to expand that channel," she said.

"We haven't chosen anyone new and we are not negotiating with anyone, but we are very aware that we need to ramp that area up."

Recent IDC research showed the iMac to be on the fringe of the top-five list in PC sales.

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