Apple has launched a partner program to funnel corporate business opportunities back into its channel.
The Apple Consultant Network (ACN), which already exists in the North America, is made up of a selected group of Apple certified resellers and IT partners, which will be able to provide implementation services and advice to business and consumer customers. Clients can explore the list of ACN members through an online portal, which categorises them by locations and capabilities ranging from home users to enterprise.
The list includes seven partners so far: Computers Now, Digistor, gizmo, Key Options Technology, Kytec Group, Renaissance, Winthrop and XciteLogic.
Winthrop general manager, Cedric Celestine, said the launch of an official reseller program would level the playing field for Apple service providers. Previously, Apple worked with partners on a more ad-hoc basis.
“It stops the channel from going out there and undercutting each other,” Celestine said. “Instead of throwing a piece of business out there and letting the channel fight over it, this method allows Apple to say ‘this is a reseller in this areas so talk to these guys and they will help you’.
“Ultimately, the final decision is up to the client but at least this way, if I lose a client to someone else, I’ll know it will have the same qualifications as I do and it didn’t just offer a cheaper price for the service.”
Celestine is expecting the new network will help boost its Apple business by 20-30 per cent. Perth-based IT service provider, Kytec, saw the new program as a win-win for both vendor and partners.
Kytec managing director, David Okulicz, said Apple will increase the level of service to customers as well as direct business back to the channel through the consultant network.
Apple has been repeatedly criticised for its lack of commitment to channel partners and direct sales focus. Last year, the vendor was accused of disregarding its reseller channel by excluding them from selling the iPhone and restricting access to telcos or its own retail stores.
In September, Apple cut Victoria-based partner, Cheap Macs, from its ranks without notice after the reseller allegedly transgressed website rules. The vendor is also yet to outline the local channel strategy for its new iPad tablet PC, which was announced this month.
However, Kytec and Winthrop defended the vendor from being too direct in the corporate end of the market. The new partners network is also expected to help Apple better penetrate the enterprise space.