Last week Apple joined PC vendors Dell and Compaq by releasing two PC/GST-software bundle packages targeted at small businesses.
IDC senior analyst Bernie Esner described Apple's - and the other vendors' jump through the GST "window of opportunity" - as "very smart".
"Apple has its own AppleCentres," he said. "They're small businesses themselves. Who else better to sell [PC/GST-software bundles]?"
Before the advent of the GST, Esner said small businesses only needed to design customised Excel spreadsheets in order to carry out most taxation and accounting calculations. MYOB, Quicken and other accounting software systems were not always essential software items, he said.
Additionally, Esner said that for accounting software packages released before the final GST legislation (July 1) it would be impossible to achieve total GST-compliance.
"The ATO [Australian Taxation Office] is updating its Web site every two days with new amendments to GST legislation." However, Esner predicted GST-related complications would make tax calculations without GST-compliant software a "nightmare" for many small businesses.
"The only way it [GST calculation] can be done now is by computer."
Esner admitted that businesses already with PCs would not necessarily benefit from bundles such as the iMac/MYOB package. It would make little sense to spend as much as $6000 on new PC equipment if all that was needed was software worth $200, he said. However, he cited ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) figures which showed that only 25 per cent of Australia's small businesses (earning annual revenues of under $10 million) currently used computers to run their business.
For the remaining 75 per cent, he said, purchasing PCs would be the most time- and cost-efficient way to tackle taxation changes brought about by the GST.
Apple's small business GST package costs $2094 and pairs an iMac with MYOB's First Accounts application, as well as its sales tax rebate and pricing model calculators.
Apple's complete point-of-sale package costs $5995 and provides shopkeepers with an iMac and ShopFront POS software, as well as a barcode reader, cash drawer and a receipt printer.