Apple’s uneasy relationship with its retailers

I’m at an event run by an Apple accessory distributor, showing off the latest add-on gadgets. Met someone whose company has a number of high street stores selling Apple products.

“What do you do when an Apple Store opens in the same town as one of your shops?”

Answer: “It screws us”

That shop becomes instantly unprofitable.

The consequence: one retailer said it is inevitable that Apple-only retailers will diversify and start selling Windows, Android and so on.

It is a bitter pill since Apple itself encouraged independent retailers to invest in prime retail sites – only to compete with them a year or two later with it’s own stores.

Resellers are also facing competition from the Mac app store, selling previously profitable applications like Final Cut and of course the next version of OS X, Lion, either exclusively or at prices with which they cannot compete.

Does Apple care? Well, it seems there is one team tasked with supporting independent resellers, and another tasked with finding good sites for new Apple stores, and the two do not talk to each other. Which I suppose is what you would expect.

Apple may deliver the most user-friendly devices out there, but that does not make it a nice company to do business with.

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