Despite rumours that there is unrest among Apple's dealer network, IC Technologies' decision to begin selling IBM PCs does not signal a shift away from Apple so much as it indicates IC's desire to offer customers "complete solutions", according to Ian Bamford, IC Technologies' (ICT) managing director. ICT is reportedly among Apple's top three resellers in Australia.
"We found that a lot of people were asking us for IBM PCs," Bamford told Australian Reseller News. "A lot of customers have hybrid systems mixing Apple and IBM computers. Taking on IBM products enables us to offer customers complete solutions.
"We're seeing an increasing trend towards multiplatform environments, and as the industry moves steadily towards open standards, there is a real business case for us to support both the Apple and IBM PC market," he said.
Bamford says his company's decision to add IBM to its product mix will also help it to combat clone sales. "It's no secret that clone manufacturers have been taking a lot of sales away [from "brand name" manufacturers], particularly in the education market," Bamford said. "If you look at the education market, you've got Compaq who are about fourth in the market and have a market share of about 4 per cent. Apple have about 40 per cent and the clones - of which there are about 200 - have a similar market share. The point is, it's a very fractionalised market, but I think that will begin to change now that manufacturers like IBM and Compaq have lowered their prices and are concentrating on the education market. Too many people have been burned by clones with regard to bad service and parts problems."
Bamford says he is happy to see that IBM is making the education market a priority. "It hasn't always been the case, but I think IBM has recognised that it needs to be a part of the education market and they've dedicated staff and are doing a lot of things with regard to marketing in education," he said.
With regard to Apple's recently announced plans to roll out a franchised network of retail stores, Bamford is fairly stoic. "We don't have a problem with that. I think it's a recognition on the part of Apple that parts of the SOHO market were not being addressed as well as they could've been," he said. "We're actually interested in the concept, but we have some differences of opinion on the costs. Apple are focusing on spending money on fitting the stores out [typical charges for converting an existing location into an Apple retail store are said to be in the range of $120,000 to $150,000]. We think the money should be spent on training and improving the sales process."