Changing the Channel: Networking VAR news

Apr 23 2010   12:21PM GMT

Apple TKOs Microsoft — But how about some channel presence?

ElaineHom Elaine Hom Profile: ElaineHom

This week, Apple gave Microsoft a “technical knock-out” and became the second most valuable Nasdaq firm by market cap, after Exxon-Mobil.  In 1997, shares were worth $3.42.  Today, they are up to $266 with a market cap of $241 billion.

I am kicking myself for not buying shares of Apple at the time, but hey, I was in middle school.

According to this Yahoo! exclusive analysis, Apple is creating trends to the delight of consumers, coming out with new highly consumable products every year, whereas Microsoft is still living off of the fat of Microsoft Office and other mainstays from decades past.

Apple products are beginning to find their way into SMBs and enteprises, as well, with iPhones leading the charge for a couple of years now.  But most networks simply aren’t equipped for this.  This week, we found out that universities are beginning to ban iPads because of DHCP client malfunctions, authentication issues, and other strains on network resources.  While the majority of people purchase these products for recreational use, it isn’t surprising that many are going to try to use them for professional use as well.  And professional use is going to require a different type of seller, not just Apple stores in trendy malls.  Apple is going to need to generate a channel presence and recruit a major number of resellers who know how to troubleshoot problems like the ones facing Princeton and GWU.

But Apple’s channel program is relatively quiet compared to Microsoft’s. In fact, when I searched for info on Apple’s channel program when the iPad was first announced, this page did not exist. This is the first time I’ve seen it, and I’m positively wowed by the transparency compared to when I tried to find info months ago.  While it appears that they are becoming more and more visible, it’s clearly not as established as Microsoft’s channel program.  And if Apple really wants to make Microsoft’s knees quake, a serious channel program is the way to go.  It needs to be a channel program full of training for resellers who’ve grown up in the Microsoft era and have to learn how to troubleshoot Apple products.  If Apple can train an army of resellers to sell both their products and also implement and administer Apple product-ready networks, Microsoft will have some serious competition on its hands.

While we wait for Apple to make bigger waves in the channel, I would love to hear from existing Apple partners or people who are applying to become Apple partners.  Or, if you’re a Microsoft partner who would like to react to this (good or bad), I’d also love to hear from you.  Drop me an email at ehom@techtarget.com.

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