Apple dealers have hit back with a variety of reactions to Apple's announcement that iMac personal computers will be sold through 145 Optus World stores across the country.
"It basically gives us another reason not to push the product," said one disappointed Apple-authorised reseller. He said in his geographic area alone it would double the competition.
According to Kevin McElduff, Apple Australia's channel manager, the alliance will complement the existing dealership model of Optus World targeting the consumer market, leaving AppleCentres to cater to a diverse range of Apple customers.
"AppleCentres will remain our flagship retail stores, providing a greater variety of comprehensive PC solutions for industry, business and consumers," said McElduff in response to concerns expressed by Apple resellers.
"Optus World stores will be selling an Internet solution, of which Internet-ready iMacs are a critical component. Other consumer products such as USB peripherals may be offered soon."
"Apple seems to think it can gain more market share by adding more dealers," said one Victorian-based Apple dealer who didn't want to be named.
"But this isn't necessarily the case. It could come at the expense of the brand. Put it this way, you wouldn't buy an iMac if it was being sold by the local fish and chip shop."
He has already seen the introduction of Clive Peeters into the Apple channel in his area.
Tim Kleeman, who manages Apple EducationCentre in Spring Hill, Queensland, disagreed, claiming it will improve business through increased visibility. "Some people will see iMacs for the first time in Optus World stores, and then still contact us for a sale," he said.
One Apple dealer who spoke to ARN feared Optus could leverage its ISP capabilities and offer lower prices for the iMac product than any Apple dealer just concentrating on moving boxes.
However, Myrna Van Pelt, corporate affairs manager at Apple, said the announcement is "not in line with free PC strategies" pioneered by other vendors but it is nonetheless an Internet connectivity strategy.
Aware of the dissention within some Apple reseller ranks, Kleeman was quick to dismiss grumblings about increased competition.
"My opinion is that dealers who spend too much time crying and whingeing about this are taking their eye off the ball, while I'll be selling iMacs," he said.iMacs will be trialled in 30 OptusWorld stores across Australia with the initiative to be fully operational by the end of September, said Van Pelt.