The resignation on July 10, of Apple's chairman and CEO, Gil Amelio, and Ellen Hancock, the company's executive vice-president of technology, has caught its resellers by surprise.
"I'm shocked," was the first reaction of Harry Fay, director of New England Office Supplies (NEOS) in Armidale, NSW, reseller of Apple and Wintel equipment. "I thought Gil was doing a reasonable job in turning the company around."
Also stunned, and believing Amelio was "on the right track", was Jan Persson, director of South Melbourne-based Mac and Wintel reseller Desktop Power, a digital publishing specialist. "This has to be as bad as things can be," said Persson. "It should get better for Apple from now on for a company with such innovative products."
Apple posted the news to its local Web site within hours of the announcement in the US. The statement simply said Amelio had resigned after consultation with Apple's board of directors.
"Until a new CEO is hired, Fred Anderson, executive vice-president and chief financial officer, will assume additional responsibilities for the company's day-to-day operations, working closely with the board and the executive management team," the press release said.
Interestingly, until Apple finds a new CEO, Steve Jobs (Apple's co-founder and strategic adviser) will assume an expanded role as a key adviser to Apple's board and executive management team.
Phil Jackson, director of Alpha Computers in Morn-ington, Victoria, finds significance in the fact that Amelio's departure came days before Apple was due to release its quarterly results. "It makes me think he knows what the numbers are and he's gone," said Jackson.
According to a document detailing the terms of his contract - and filed with the US securities commission when Amelio was hired 18 months ago - he will be paid $US10 million if he is fired "without cause" or if he resigns "for good reason".
The local perspective
Steve Rust, general manager of Apple Australia, said that when Amelio was appointed, the company needed a Mr Fixit. "If you look back, Gil's fixed most things except profitability," said Rust. "We're even on back order for some products."
In agreement was market research company, IDC Australia. "While the US analysts are predicting tougher times, Apple is doing well in Australia," said market analyst William Christie.
"Apple's figures are up in the local market," said Christie. "It's position has strengthened."