Changing the Channel: Networking VAR news

May 19 2010   1:34PM GMT

Apple: Not as friendly as it seems

ElaineHom Elaine Hom Profile: ElaineHom

Who doesn’t know those Apple commercials? With the once-adorable Justin Long (I personally find him annoying now, but that’s just me) representing Apple and a frumpy chubby middle-aged man representing PC, it was clear that Apple was trying to paint itself as the “hip” and “cool” company — a true company for the youth of today. (Watch one here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuqZ8AqmLPY)  For years, people who bought Apples patted themselves on the back for snubbing the evil Microsoft empire and giving their hard-earned cash to the underdog who cares about their customers, not like that Bill Gates fellow.

But it’s become increasingly clear in the last few years that Apple is no less corporate than Microsoft, or any other major vendor. When the guys at Gizmodo got their hands on the prototype iPhone that a hapless engineer left in a bar, Apple went for the throat. They didn’t just want the phone back, they wanted blood… in the form of a police raid on editor Jason Chen’s house. Say whatever you want about the ethics of Gizmodo spending $5,000 on the scoop and writing a story instead of turning in the product, but a police raid was a bit unnecessary.

And of course, there’s the disabled woman on a fixed income, with no credit or debit cards, who saved up her cash to go fulfill her dream of owning an iPad, only to be told at the store, “We don’t take cash.”  Um… what?  I understand that Apple relies on plastic to reduce piracy and whatever, but this wasn’t a woman trying to buy 10 iPads. Read the story here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/18/apple-store-rejects-cash_n_580357.html

Then there are Apple’s business practices in the channel. I’ve heard a few stories from anonymous sources that just made me shake my head. I heard about Apple having serious shipment problems, so partners made large inventory purchases to avoid the shipping issues. After this partner had purchased the large inventory, Apple immediately upgraded everything affected by the shipping issues, leaving resellers with warehouses full of outdated products.

I also heard a story about Apple offering the certification and training to partners to make memory installations. When Apple realized how much money the partners were making by making memory installs to existing customers, they upped the memory per computer sold — at the same price — so customers would no longer have to buy memory installations. One could argue this was for the benefit of the customers, but why would they hold this against their partners?

Then there is Luke Wignall, who was recently dumped by Apple after being a reseller for two years. His company applied for renewal and heard a resounding “no” because of its sales and the size of its customer base. Apple demands a $175,000 annual sales quota, from what I’ve heard. And that does not include products such as iPhones, iPads or iPods.

Keep in mind, this is an SMB services company. Apple can’t really expect that ONLY enterprise customers are going to purchase their goods — in fact, it’s much more likely that a 10-seat office would bring its mobility business to Apple because everyone wants an iPhone. In an enterprise, that kind of decision would take months to make and it’s even less likely if everyone is already on a BlackBerry network.

 “Apple has no desire for there to be a lot of resellers,” Luke said. “What they want is a one-man, stereotypical Prius-driving Mac expert who loves to do services work and repair work. They don’t want to deal with that, they want people to go to their stores. How much do they devote in their stores to repair? Almost none.”

Apple didn’t respond to one email and two phone calls requesting for comment, but I called them again today, and we’ll see if they have anything to say for themselves.

Do you have an interesting Apple experience, good or bad? I’d love to hear about it. Email me at ehom@techtarget.com.

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