A lost App-ortunity for resellers

Robert Peckham speculates about the new technology that?s around the corner and bemoans Apple?s attempts to drive users to buy direct through the App Store, rather than through dealers and resellers...
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JUST EIGHT months after the launch of the first iPad, the iPad 2 has appeared, and it’s remarkably advanced. So what’s left to speculate about?

First, there’s Mac OS X v10.7 Lion? It’s on the horizon and no doubt it will be pretty phenomenal.

Then there’s the iPhone 5. This has got to be Apple’s worst-kept secret about a new product ever. The death knell for the iPhone 4 was sounded at the time of the widely-publicised reception problems, and Apple never quite got the much-anticipated white version off the lines. BlackBerry, HTC and Samsung have all gained market share from Apple as a result, and photos of the new iPhone 5 are everywhere on the web – it resembles a scaled-down version of the new iPad. No surprise there, then.

The only piece of major news that’s caught my attention recently was a very quiet announcement that Apple is discontinuing the boxed editions of its iLife and iWork suites in favour of the cheaper download versions from the App Store. It goes further. Apple’s retail stores are cutting the range of 30-plus games software titles they physically stock on shelves down to eight and similar reductions are being applied to utility and productivity software.

This is a wake-up call with implications for the channel as a whole, because Apple is quickly removing the whole ‘boxed software’ income sales stream from resellers and dealers by selling direct to users through the App Store.

Once again, survival will all be in the support. If you can charge to install, maintain and train on Apple systems and applications, then you still have a viable business model, but be aware that Apple is ramping up its support
offerings at every opportunity. Just this week I received an email from Apple announcing ‘Joint Venture’, a fixed-fee set-up, training and support package for SME businesses which, on the face of it, appears to be pretty good value until you realise that Apple does not visit its customers’ premises under this cover – it’s done by web, email or phone, or by visiting them at retail stores, where Apple hope to sell business users more hardware or accessories.

I still maintain that it’s impossible to properly support any business IT user, regardless of chosen platform, without actually visiting their premises and understanding their workflow by witnessing it in operation at first hand. But perhaps that’s just me?

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