New Apple offerings are driving channel opportunity

This year’s MacWorld Conference & Expo, held in San Francisco, promised Apple consumers and channel partners plenty of excitement and potential market opportunities as the latest, and what some observers are deeming, the greatest, solutions were showcased.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivered perhaps the biggest news to come out of MacWorld during his keynote speech when he announced the new MacBook Air. What Apple claims is the world’s thinnest notebook will begin shipping next week.

Measuring only 0.16 – 0.76 inches thin, weighing just 3 pounds and offering a 13.3 inch display screen and full size keyboard, Jobs promises the MacBook Air is a product that is sure to be the apple of every Apple fan’s eye.

Mary Percat, national reseller sales manager at Apple Canada, says even though it has uet to be release the MacBook Air already has people excited.

“Our resellers think MacBook Air will open up new markets for them in the notebook space appealing to the traveling business executive,” Percat says. “It’s a great opportunity for our resellers to go to their existing customers and to find new ones because it’s another product to add to their offerings, which means greater improvements in their revenues.”

Mary Ann Yule, director, marketing and purchasing at Toronto-based CDW Canada, said she foresees plenty of market opportunities for Apple channel players who plan to deploy MacBook Air.

“It’s an attractive notebook and the portability factor is awesome,” Yule said. “It’s a great size and it looks good. For the business class executive who is looking for the lightest and most portable notebook, the MacBook Air is a great option sell.”

In addition, Percat says with the sale of MacBook Air there are plenty of other ways for resellers to increase their per CPU revenue through add-on items and services with adapters, warranty services, optical disk drives and more.

Software partners launch Mac offerings

On the Microsoft front, Office 2008 for Mac was also announced and launched at MacWorld. This Office release follows that of Office 2004 for Mac, but this time around it runs natively on PCs and Intel-based Macs and is universal across applications.

Sheridan Jones, group marketing manager for Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit, said Microsoft is seeing strong demand for Office 2008 because of its compatibility across workstations and applications and its newly designed graphic user interface, which now looks more Mac-like.

“Office 2008 is an even bigger launch for us than Office 2004 for Mac was,” Jones said. “This time we’re really out there and are working to get it in the hands of everyone.”

Microsoft wasn’t the only company releasing new Apple-based offerings. Marketcircle Inc., a Toronto-based Mac business software company, isn’t as big a player as Apple or Microsoft, but company CEO Alykhan, Jetha, is hoping that the company’s international partner network will continue to grow with the latest release of its business productivity software solution designed for use in small Mac-based businesses called, Daylite 3.7.

“Globally, we’re probably sitting north of 250 partners,” Jetha said. “In Canada, we have between 10 and 15. Our reseller base is stronger in the U.S. but we definitely have room to grow and we need and want to get a better foothold in Canada.”

Since it was formed in 1999, Marketcircle’s partner recruitment strategy has generally been a passive one, Jetha said.

“That way when partners find us, they’re more open and we find we don’t need to do a lot to convince them about the Mac market,” Jetha said. “We want partners who understand how to sell a solution rather than just moving boxes. We also want partners who have experience working in the small business market.”

Daylite 3.7 is the latest release of Marketcircle’s management application solution, designed for businesses of up to 50 people. Using the solution, users can share schedules, streamline business workflow and can track and manage business activities.

Jetha says partners can achieve 25 point margins, plus more, including revenue achieved from the implementation of Daylite.

“The reseller proposition is that partners will need to have consultations with customers to customize solutions to their needs,” Jetha said. “They’ll also need to sell additional hardware as needed and train the employees on the implementation. That means there’s lots of money to be made post-sale for partners.”

On the upswing

Apple recently announced its best quarter ever, with the highest revenue and earnings in the company’s history, and Percat adds Apple’s reseller channel is growing better and faster than the rest of the industry when it comes to IT products.

That’s a view backed-up by Marketcircle’s Jetha. “We at Marketcircle are definitely seeing a trend in the Mac market because the Apple market is growing.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
Staff Writer, Computer Dealer News

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