Apple VARs To Customers: Don't Wait For Intel Machines

Their message to customers: If you need it now, don't wait--buy it.

"I don't think it's a smart move for anybody to hold back on any purchases, certainly in the next 12 months," said Michael Oh, president of Tech Superpowers, a Boston-based Apple specialist. "A year from now, then you're really going to have to start looking at this issue. So in the short term to midterm, customers should continue to purchase as needed."

Major platform changes always sway some customers to take a wait-and-see attitude, but those with systems that can no longer do the job will realize they can't hold off an upgrade for a year or more, said George Swords, marketing manager at PowerMacPac, an Apple VAR in Portland, Ore.

"If there's an excuse to delay a purchase, people will use it. But if you need a box, you buy a box. There's really no reason to delay a purchase, because it's going to be at least a year [for Intel Macs to ship]," Swords said.

Sponsored post

Apple plans to roll out the first Intel-based products starting next June and have all new Macs running on Intel chips by the close of 2007. CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the migration timetable last week at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco, but he didn't say which products would be the first to get Intel processors.

In the meantime, Apple has "some great PowerPC products in the pipeline," Jobs said. The company has since declined to comment about specific products for the Intel transition.

But even with that general road map, solution providers said it shouldn't be difficult to explain to customers to proceed with any upgrades they had been planning or to reassure them about recent Mac purchases.

"If you just bought a brand-new [Power Mac] G5, that machine is going to be perfectly fine for whatever your standard lifecycle is--18 months, two years, three years, five years--and your next one will probably be an Intel machine," Swords said. "If you have a G4 right now and it's working OK and you want to wait, that would be cool. But if your [business] process says you need to be more efficient and you need to buy a new G5, it's the same cycle. So there's no reason for a customer not to upgrade now."

Some customers may even find PowerPC-based Macs a safer option for the time being, since there's no telling how well the early Intel units will perform or if they'll encounter any technical glitches, VARs said.

"Do you want to jump on the bleeding edge, or do you want to get the most refined Macs?" Swords said. "In a production environment, we know the PowerPC platform is very stable and rock-solid. So in that environment, you may not want to buy version one [of an Intel Mac]."

If Mac customers hesitate to buy anything before the Intel machines come out, VARs need to boil it down for them so they can plainly see what they need or want, said Gary Dailey, president of Daystar Technology, an Atlanta-based Apple reseller.

"We go into the same type of thing: Are you happy with what you have now, and what is it you're trying to get?" Dailey said. "It gets back to the same old thing that anything you buy today is obsolete yesterday. That's just a part of it. So decide what you want to do and what you need to do, and make an adjustment."

Forrester Research analyst Simon Yates said he thinks VARs will have their work cut out for them selling current Mac products in the interim of Apple's move to the Intel platform.

"It's going to be difficult for them to allay some fears because there are going to be customers who'll say, 'I'll just wait for the Intel version,' " Yates said. "They need to come up with an argument that says to customers, 'Look, we don't know exactly which products are going to be transitioned first. All we know is that by [late] 2007, they all will be, and it's likely to start with the low-end, Mac mini part of the portfolio first."