Apple has backed away from a confrontation with Ingram Micro after it appeared to give the distributor three months' grace before making a final review of its channel partners.
The manufacturer first announced in November that it would cut one of three distributors - Computer 2000, Ingram Micro and Computers Unlimited - as its channel needed to be brought in line with declining revenue (PC Dealer, 12 November 1997).
It was widely expected that Ingram Micro would be axed as it does not shift the same amount of volume as Computer 2000 and because both distributors target the same customers.
Apple delayed a decision twice before the end of last year, despite assertions that it would make one. But last week, Apple decided to put off making a decision for another 90 days.
Julian Klien, Apple channel sales director, said: 'We have held off on the review because business is good.' He declined to comment on speculation that Ingram US had placed considerable pressure on Apple not to can the distributor.
One industry source said: 'Ingram Micro was fighting back. In fact, the decision was even meant to have gone to Steve Jobs (Apple chief executive).
'This is purely that Ingram Micro is on a 90-day trial to come up with the goods.'
Another source claimed that CHS and Principal, along with Apple's three existing distributors, tendered for the supply contract.
Meanwhile, Apple UK is set to finalise an in-store concession deal with a retail outlet, hoping to replicate its US partnership with superstore giant CompUSA. According to Apple UK managing director John Molyneux, the contenders for the deal are Dixons, Comet, Tempo and John Lewis.
Molyneux admitted: 'We are talking to them at the moment, but at this stage I cannot reveal too many of the details as I do not want to jeopardise the deal.'
Apple has a dedicated area in 57 CompUSA outlets, staffed by Apple-trained people, where software and hardware are sold.
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