Apple has begun phasing out the AppleCentre retail outlet brand name and will ask partners to reapply for their certifications.
The vendor’s AppleCentre partners now have until 31 January 2007 to develop their own branding and remove all references to AppleCentre, Apple Australia marketing director Rob Small said.
The “rebranding exercise”, which had been flagged in Europe three months ago, has also seen a new ‘Apple Premium Partner’ certification emerge to replace the AppleCentre partner certification.
Small said with the changes, AppleCentre partners would also need to reapply for their certification with Apple.
Based on passing metrics like traffic flow, signage, customer training, post sales experience, partners would be offered Premium accreditation. If partners failed to meet the criteria, or decided not to apply, they would be given Authorised accreditation.
Small would not comment on whether the two tiers had access to different pricing models, but said Premium partners would benefit from being included in Apple’s marketing campaigns.
The move, designed to “improve the customer experience,” Small claimed, would not see reseller partners short-changed by being deprived of the AppleCentre branding.
“The AppleCentre brand is owned by Apple, not independently owned retail outlets,” he said.
In a possible indication that Apple's partners have forseen such a move for some time, AppleCentres - notably NextByte, MacCentric and MacAcademy - have increasingly moved to distance themselves from the AppleCentre brand.
NextByte director Tim Kleemann said the impact from the change would be negiligable as the reseller had always had plans to develop a strong stand-alone brand.
"I've seen the new signage and marketing materials around the Premium accreditation and it looks fine," he said, "I like the training requirement [for Premium partners] as it's an opportunity to differentiate ourselves [from Authorised resellers].
While NextByte intended to apply for Premium accreditation, Kleemann said that it was unlikely that there would be any pricing advantage over Authorised resellers.
"It's a myth that AppleCentres get better pricing," he said.
Apple cans AppleCentre branding
By Tim Lohman on Aug 1, 2006 12:53PM