Apple resellers are bracing themselves for the onslaught of vendors selling product throughout Europe via the internet, which is expected to drastically reduce prices.
On 10 November 1997, Apple first revealed its plan to sell direct on the Web, setting up an online shop - Apple Store - which has also gone live in the US, giving details and prices of all of its products (PC Dealer, 12 November 1997). Users are able to pick the machine and order online.
It was confirmed that Apple UK would begin a pilot to be rolled out throughout Europe on 7 May. Sources close to Apple claimed the fulfilment would be handled from Apple's manufacturing plant in Cork, but it was unclear who would administrate the system.
One source said: 'I don't expect it to be a distributor or a mail-order company. Apple did this before and got its fingers burnt when it set up its catalogue operation, Apple Direct.'
Another reseller said he expected hardware prices to drop to the same level with advertised mail-order prices, in a similar move which occurred in the US. However, he said: 'This doesn't go down too well with me as I am now going to change my prices. We are an AppleCentre which provides value-added service and I can't afford to sell at the lower prices.'
Apple - which is also expected to unveil a range of Powerbooks this week - refused to comment prior to the worldwide launch on 7 May.
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