Apple resellers have been told they will be stocked with the world’s fastest personal computer in August.
But fur is already flying with some associate resellers allegedly advertising the new Power Mac G5 at cost price. This has not gone down very well with Apple Centres, which have made a bigger commitment to the vendor but are being undercut before stock has even arrived.
“It is very disappointing that within 24 hours of such a major announcement, associate resellers were advertising that customers could pre-order at cost price,” Apple Centre Taylor Square director, Ben Morgan, said. “Why would you do that unless you are trying to buy customers?
“These fly by the minute, box-hocking companies are continuing a fine tradition of mass discounting to the customer with immediate deferral of all support. All they want to do is move product and at the first sign of trouble it will be deflected to someone else.”
Morgan raised his complaint with Apple but was told there was nothing it could do to fix pricing.
“Apple created its channel but does nothing to control it,” Morgan said. “They shouldn’t register any more of these [associate reseller] companies or, if they do, there should be some conditions placed on how they do business because our investment is being devalued.”
Apple marketing manager, Arno Lenior, confirmed the vendor would not enter into pricing discussions with resellers but defended the role of associate resellers.
“Our associate reseller program gives us geographical distribution in areas where we have no coverage and also takes us into particular vertical market segments," he said. "It is a very important part of the Apple distribution model and won’t go away anytime soon.”
The G5, the world’s first PC to feature a 64-bit processor, was announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) last week. Australian pricing was announced the following day and resellers are already taking pre-orders.
“There is pent up demand in the marketplace and orders have been strong,” Next Byte managing director, Adam Steinhardt, said. “The graphic designer community has been waiting for this for some time.”
The G5 will be available in three clock speeds – 1.6GHz, 1.8GHz and a dual-processor 2GHz version – with pricing at $3499, $4499 and $5499, respectively.
Just as exciting for some Apple resellers are the significant cuts in the pricing of G4 Power Macs. The vendor is phasing out the 1GHz and 1.4GHz models but announced it will continue to make the 1.25GHz while demand lasts.
Prices have dropped accordingly, with the 1GHz model falling from $3099 to $1999, and resellers are reporting high levels of interest.
Apple’s largest reseller, Next Byte, is confident G4 stocks will last long enough to see it through to the arrival of G5 but predicts it will have a short shelf life once the new machines become available.
“It’s always a bit of black magic trying to pick the run rates at a time like this but once the G5 comes through it is sure to become the machine of choice,” Next Byte’s Steinhardt said.
Apple Centre’s Morgan said his store had deliberately run G4 stocks down because the performance difference to G5 would be so great.
Despite Apple predicting availability in August, Morgan expected it would take three months to get delivery of the new machines.
“You have to understand that Australia is only one per cent of the international market and we will get machines delivered accordingly,” he said. “It is out with the old and in with the new as far as I am concerned.” The 64-bit operating system, Mac OS X v10.3 Panther, is expected later in the year.
“This launch [G5 and Panther] will dictate the success or failure of Apple as a company, either putting it in a position to become the most popular computer platform of the future or signing its death warrant,” Morgan said. “I am confident they [Apple] will get it right.”