Apple revealed last week it will increase its reseller channel partner count by 10 per cent in what appears to be the best indication the beleaguered vendor is well on the road to recovery.
At a time when some vendors are looking at ways to reduce their bricks and mortar channels, a raft of new AppleCentres are appearing all over Australia.
Apple Computer said it is now in the process of opening 12 such new retail outlets and according to Scott Thompson, managing director of Mac's Place, the initiative reflects the huge growth in demand for Apple.
Apple reseller Mac's Place opened one of the AppleCentres in Sydney's Dee Why last week and is scheduled to open one in Melbourne's Box Hill in November.
The retailer will retain its existing Mac's Place brand at its other outlets in Richmond, Victoria, Chatswood, New South Wales and Brisbane's CBD.
Mac's Place also operates an Apple reseller business under the banner of Random Access in the Melbourne CBD.
Thompson described the new Dee Why store as a "satellite" and reported that it was well supported by Apple. Apple managing director Di Ryall attended the official opening.
Thompson claimed the new generation Apple iMac and iBook products have generated huge demand for the Apple specialist outlets, especially from the SOHO and home user markets.
According to Ryall, the AppleCentre expansion reflected the dramatic growth of Apple's market in Australia, both on a national and regional level. "The popularity of iMac and advance interest in iBook demonstrates rapidly growing consumer demand for Apple's products," she said.
Ryall claimed that new AppleCentres have been opened in areas where customer demand exceeded the capacity of existing AppleCentres and in areas currently without an Apple presence.
Apple's channel strategy has been the subject of much conjecture over the years, but it's simply a matter of return on investment with opportunity for growth, according to the proprietor of another of Australia's newest AppleCentres. George Mekrizis is managing director of GM Computers, which operates two Sydney CBD Apple reseller outlets and has just opened the new AppleCentre at Neutral Bay. His comment summarised the measured if not muffled excitement of the Apple channel. He said that the expansion of the Apple outlets was with the support of the vendor's existing channel. "We agreed with Apple that there were areas needing more coverage, and we put our hand up for Neutral Bay."
Choice Connections' NSW manager, Harold Weeks, confirmed they will be opening their fourth AppleCentre in Sydney's Capitol Square (on George Street) around the end of September. He described the new AppleCentres as a little more up-market and with a more standardised look. "It's a strong time for Apple and we'd like to be part of that," Weeks said.
The 12 new AppleCentres are located in Neutral Bay (NSW), Dee Why (NSW), Surrey Hills (Vic), Cannington (WA), Maroochydore (Qld) and Fortitude Valley (Qld).
Still to open are stores in Capitol Square (NSW, end of this month), Taylor Square in Sydney (early November), Pymble (NSW, October), Woden Plaza (ACT, October), Shoalhaven (NSW, October) and Box Hill (VIC, November).