Dedicated Apple dealers are on tenterhooks in anticipation of Gil Amelio's plans for the company.
The Apple Computer reseller channel is happy that the manufacturer has standardised its Ts&Cs across Europe, but most dealers and distributors will delay celebrations until CEO Gil Amelio reveals his plans.
The past 12 months have been trying for Apple resellers and distributors.
Turmoil at the top, product gluts as well as an uncertain future have led them to moan, worry and eventually take action.
Although Apple sales are stable, falling margins and market uncertainty have forced dealers to consider a change of direction. Some, including Apple business centre Trams, have developed PC businesses.
Those resellers still fully committed to Apple are obviously keenest to hear what Amelio has to say. Although most agree the ex-National Semiconductor man is the best choice as Apple's saviour, so far he has only given an outline of his battle plans.
Nick Collingridge, marketing director at Apple-only distributor Computers Unlimited, is pleased that Apple is addressing its problems. 'A level playing field in Europe is a good thing and Apple has been more open recently,' he said.
But he agreed Apple dealers are nervous about the future. 'Apple is doing things to survive. I think I'll be disappointed with some of Amelio's statements and happy with others. But he appears to be more pragmatic in his approach than his predecessor Michael Spindler.'
Sources say Amelio wants to position Apple as a premium brand at a higher price than clones. This suits specialists such as Computers Unlimited and Apple Var Rothwell Group, but volume players including distributor Ingram Micro and off-the-page dealer Mac Warehouse might not be overjoyed.
Sue Reid, Apple business development manager at Ingram, expressed concern that resellers will sell less volume if Apple is a premium brand.
One dealer, who asked to remain anonymous, was worried that Amelio will exploit niches. 'Without Apple in the mainstream, our business plan will not work. I hope Amelio does not mess that up for us,' he said.
Apple may have standardised Ts&Cs and become more open, but it is still in dire straits. Everything depends on mystic Amelio and his crystal ball.
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