VAR Plaintiffs In Apple Suit Won't Wield Picket Signs At MacWorld

Thomas Santos, president of MacAdam Computing, a San Francisco Apple retailer who is one of six suing Apple--and part of a group that routinely stages protests at Apple events--said no picketing would take place at the show. He said the group wants to keep a low profile pending a Jan. 25 hearing in Santa Clara County Superior Court, San Jose, Calif.

"Last year, Apple circulated my picture at the show, trying to keep me out of the keynote," Santos said.

The lawsuit alleges that Apple shorted its resellers on popular products such as iPods to bolster the stock at Apple's own retail outlets and online stores. Some of Apple's enterprise product resellers are also less than satisfied with the vendor as a partner.

Mike Healey, president of TenCorp, Needham, Mass., said he'd like more marketing support. "They are getting slightly better at support, but it's something that needs to continue," he said.

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Healey said Apple has a golden opportunity to make further inroads into the PC-dominated marketplace now that the Mac OS X operating system integrates with Windows-based servers. "It's not 'Apple or the highway' anymore, and [Apple] should take better advantage of that in the channel," he said.

Apple declined to comment for this story.

Against this backdrop of partner frustration, vendors will use MacWorld to unveil new products. Atempo, Palo Alto, Calif., plans to introduce upgraded Time Navigator Enterprise Edition data-protection software for Mac OS X. And Research In Motion, Waterloo, Ontario, expects to debut a Mac-friendly BlackBerry. There were also unconfirmed reports that Apple will debut a sub-$500 Mac designed to lure Windows users who own iPods.

JOSEPH F. KOVAR and JENNIFER HAGENDORF FOLLETT contributed to this story.