MacTechnology's Robert Peckham talks about the new-look Apple store design.
Every time I get a phone call from any of the IT industry journalists I know, it’s always to ask for my comments about some newly revealed negative aspect of working with Apple as a reseller, service provider or VAR. And I've had quite a number in the past few weeks, all about the same topic...
If you mention V2 to any Apple Premium Reseller (APR) in the UK, they'll either roll their eyes and tut, or hang their shaking head in desperation. What is V2? In a nutshell, it’s the new-look Apple store design that has been rolling out across Europe for almost two years, which is now being brought to the UK after some hesitation.
Why is this such a big thing? Because Apple is insisting all its APR retail partners must pay to refit their stores under V2, or lose their coveted APR status together with Apple’s support of their marketing, performance rebates and all the other margin enhancers that make APR stores in any way profitable. And Apple won't be paying for V2.
I’ve seen V2 already operating in Holland, Belgium and France, and it does look very sexy. The new look is all minimalist chromium and glass with panelled flooring, solid black angular furniture, concealed low-voltage lighting and the most extraordinary hidden cable management system.
All very high-tech, evidently very expensive, and obviously very Apple. Ebizcuss, once Apple’s largest reseller in France, was forced to close last year, citing the cost of its forced investment in V2 as one of the reasons for its demise.
So what does this mean for APR stores in the UK? Well, the refitting must be done by the only company Apple has approved to carry out the work, using only the materials, fixtures and fittings approved by Apple. And if APR stores don't commit to starting the refit of their showrooms under V2 by Apple’s deadline, believed to be before the end of this year, then the UK may be starting 2013 with quite a few less APR stores than it had at the start of 2012.
Apple naysayers will proclaim the firm is using its muscle to weed out the under-performing APR dealers to make room for more of its own shops, but I say... well, let’s see what happens first, shall we?
Robert Peckham is a 20-year veteran of the Apple reseller channel in the UK, and has managed many major Apple resellers. He founded the Mac Technology Association and was a director of the Technology Channels Association until their merger with CompTIA. He now runs MacTechnology, a consultancy for the Apple reseller channel which includes the Mac Tech Team support service.
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