This year’s MacWorld Conference & Expo, held in San Francisco, delivered on hype and excitement, but will it translate to more market opportunities for Apple channel partners?
Apple CEO Steve Jobs, during his keynote speech, announced the launch of what the company claims is the world’s thinnest notebook, the new MacBook Air.
Measuring only 0.16 – 0.76 inches thin, weighing just three-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 Mac fan’s eye.
Air in the channel
MacBook Air began shipping late in January in Canada and Mary Percat, national reseller sales manager at Apple Canada, says the notebook, which can fit neatly inside an inter-office manila envelope, already has many people excited about it.
“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 that 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.
MacBook Air, Jobs said, was designed to be used as a wireless machine. It has a feature called Remote Disc which enables users to install software wirelessly by providing access to the DVD or CD drive of a nearby Mac or PC. According to Apple, MacBook Air packs a lot of power into its small and lightweight form factor. Its battery, Jobs boasts, can last up to five hours.
In addition to announcing a brand new notebook, Apple also recently announced its best quarter ever, with the highest revenue and earnings in the company’s history. Percat reinforces these results by noting that Apple’s reseller channel is growing faster than the rest of the industry when it comes to IT products.
Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit (Mac BU) also used MacWorld to launch its new Office 2008 for Mac suite. This Office release follows that of Office 2004 for Mac, and this time around it runs natively on PCs and Intel-based Macs and is universal across applications. In addition, Office 2008 also supports open XML file formats.
Kurt Schmucker, group program manager for the user interface (UI) at Microsoft Mac BU, said Office’s new Embedded Toolbar and Elements Gallery are two features that can be commonly found across its Word, PowerPoint and Excel applications. These toolbars provide users with a one-stop-shop for everything they may need in order to complete their current task at hand.
“We tried to make this a great Mac UI,” Schmucker said. “With the embedded toolbar, everything is at the top of the document now. This is also what Mac is doing.
Consistency across applications is very important because we tried to make these applications look and feel like the other modern Mac applications that are out there.”
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.
“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.”
Arnaud Gabaudan, retail marketing manager at Microsoft Canada, said Office 2008 for Mac is a great tool for all Mac users who wish to work in an Office environment.
“The suite targets different types of customers,” Gabaudan said.
“We have features in the software that address the needs and capabilities of new users and we also have features that address Mac-users and experts. The user interface and features are very Mac-like so users won’t be lost, whether or not they are experts or beginners with the software.”
Office 2008 for Mac is available in one of three versions, and includes the core suite, the home and student edition as well as the special media edition. The core software offering includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage applications, in addition to Microsoft Exchange Server support and Automator tools.
Suggested Canadian retail pricing for this version is $539.95, and $319.95 for the upgrade version. The home and student edition includes up to three licenses per household and its suggested retail price is $199.95.
Lastly, for the professional enthusiast, Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Special Media edition runs for $629.95 for the full retail version and $379.95 for the upgrade.