Apple resellers are signing up as Vodafone and Optus dealers to avoid missing out on the forthcoming iPhone. But those with existing Telstra partnerships could be left out in the cold.
In one of the biggest product announcements this year, Apple has revealed the new iPhone 3G will arrive in Australia on July 11, with Optus and Vodafone offering the handset through contract and pre-paid plans.
Unlike in the US, where Apple resellers have been excluded from selling the iPhone because of the vendor's exclusive arrangement with AT&T, Australian resellers can sell the unit if they partner with the local carriers. The announcement is triggering a new breed of resellers to join both telco's ranks and generating product bundling opportunities for Apple's traditional IT partners.
Last week, Apple distributor, Simms International, sent out an email to resellers confirming it would not be distributing the device. But in the letter the distributor claimed partnerships with either mobile network operator provided resellers with the opportunity to complement their portfolio with a full mobile set-up.
Next Byte's parent company, Vita Group, manages six Telstra shops as well as Telstra dealer chain, Fone Zone. Group CEO, David McMahon, said its relationship with the telco giant would prevent Next Byte from signing up to Optus or Vodafone to carry the iPhone. Next Byte is one of Australia's biggest Apple Premium resellers and has 23 stores nationally.
"We'll certainly look at pursuing options to get it into the stores, but it won't be in association with Optus or Vodafone," he said. "We'll have to see where it leads us."
Victorian-based Apple chain, My Mac, has commenced discussions with both iPhone carriers, owner, Steve Bardel, said. "We thought there was a possibility that we might not get it [the iPhone], so this is a big relief for us," he said.
NSW-based Digital Appeal general manager, Joshua Maynard, agreed it was worth becoming a Vodafone or Optus dealer to capitalise on the popularity of the iPhone.
"It's a good move and it's a bit different to the way we would normally sell an Apple product," he said. "It's good business diversification for us as well. We welcome it with open arms and are very excited about it."
However, SA-based Mac Centre Norwood, director, John Peart, was undecided at this stage. The store already resells some of Vodafone's wireless access and Wi-Fi kits.
"We're in an unfortunate position because our main retail store is right next door to an Allphones store. However I've already had half a dozen calls from clients saying they need an iPhone and on that basis we would be silly if we didn't look at it," he said.
Peart remained hopeful that the iPhone would become available as a standalone product.
"It's early days yet, but between now and July 11 things will become clearer," he said.