Tech Data Boosts Apple Efforts

AppleAdvantage features a dedicated sales team, inside and field sales vendor product representatives, product management resources, extended-term financing and an expanded product offering for accessories.

"We will have a dedicated team to support Apple specialists that will be fully staffed in the next 30 days. We will create a Web site to be able to market specifically to those resellers. We are working with Apple to put together some solutions offerings," said Pete Peterson, Tech Data's vice president of systems product marketing.

The Apple-focused resources at Tech Data could become the core of an Apple Specialized Business Unit in 2006.

"This is the evolution of an SBU. We see this as Phase 1 of an SBU. We've got a dedicated team to support the solution provider more, we've got the financing program, the strategy to expand accessories," Peterson said.

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Tech Data plans to add third-party accessory vendors around the Apple platform because the market for those products is reportedly more than double Apple's business, Peterson said.

"If Apple is a $13 billion or $15 billion company, you're talking another $25 billion. We see an opportunity to complete the solution," he said.

In addition, the Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor's TechSelect group established MacFocus, a subset of TechSelect focused on Apple solutions. MacFocus offers 60-day terms on all Apple purchases and 25-percent rebates on certification training. MacFocus also will establish a member advisory council, similar to the TechSelect council, according to Tech Data.

There are about 30 MacFocus members in TechSelect, about 20 percent of them newly-recruited solution providers, Peterson said.

"Our [Apple] business has grown significantly. That community of partners focused on Apple and third-party vendors is very successful. To continue to be successful, we have to speak Apple-ese, know the programs and the product offerings as well as the solutions piece," Peterson said. "I've got a couple of vendor product reps and marketing folks responsible for knowing the programs and assisting the rest of our sales organization."

Apple solution providers who are TechSelect members said it makes sense for Tech Data to put more resources behind Apple.

"We've been inquiring about whether Apple would get more," said Angela O'Donnell, director of sales at W. O' Donnell Consulting, New York.

"I think it's great. They've delivered on a promise to get Apple in [TechSelect]. They've put this whole program in place and given us exposure to work with other products for the Mac," O'Donnell said. For example, at the TechSelect Partner Conference in Chandler, Ariz., this week, Fujitsu displayed its new product for the Apple platform, a ScanSnap printer and scanner certified for OS X.

"We have the PC version at the office, so I know it?s a good product," she said. Jay Tipton, vice president of Technology Specialists, a Fort Wayne, Ind.-based solution provider, recently signed with Apple as a vendor.

"I've worked with them a little bit. I just haven't been out selling it. I think [MacFocus] is good. It'll help me drive more sales and have more resources to get ideas," he said.