Apple Premium Resellers (APRs) will finally be able to offer iPhones in their stores thanks to a tie-up between mobile network provider 3 and distributor Micro-P.
Much to their chagrin, APRs had previously been frozen out of the lucrative iPhone market due to the perception that it is a telco device.
That is all set to change as Micro-P prepares to begin shipping iPhone 4Ss with 3 contracts to the UK APR community from next week, ChannelWeb can reveal.
Micro-P will act as the "glue" between the network provider and the APR by managing the bad debt and finance. It will also pay the APRs a guaranteed commission.
Simon Woodman, sales director at Micro-P Mobile, told ChannelWeb: "IT and Apple resellers are not used to the traditional mobile model of giving away a £400 to £500 device and recovering the cost over the duration of the contract.
"We have created a very simple solution for the APRs to offer iPhones on a 3 contract with no risk whatsoever."
Woodman said Micro-P's system – which will go live on Monday – can scale to up to thousands of shipments a day if the demand is there.
"The APRs told us they are being asked for iPhones five or six times a day," Woodman said. "This scheme only offers the iPhone on 3 but that is Apple's network of the year and 3 does have the most competitive tariff, so the APRs should be able to convert quite a few of these prospects."
Eight APRs have already signed up to participate in the scheme, Woodman said.
One APR – who would only talk anonymously – said this will be the first time APRs have had access to iPhones for two and a half years, when a similar scheme running with O2 failed to get off the ground.
"It will be great to finally not have to say no when a customer asks us for an iPhone," he said.
Woodman said the scheme will begin shipping with the iPhone 4S – which is about 95 per cent of the market by volume – but that Micro-P will eventually be able to offer all models. A variety of tariffs from 3 will be available.
"We need to market this through the APRs, get their feedback on what is working and what is not, and tweak it accordingly," concluded Woodman.
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