Apple has launched a website affiliation program aimed at driving more sales to its own online store.
Apple said its Apple Store Affiliation Program offered anyone with a website a chance to host a link to Apple's online store. Each sale earns the website owner a two percent commission.
Joining the program was free. Sales commissions may go as high as 3.5 percent for websites that sell more than US$5000-worth of Apple products via the link, Apple said.
Martha Raupp, public relations manager at Apple Australia, said the company didn't discuss its marketing strategy publicly.
"So I can't help you with a comment," Raupp said.
Although some Apple channel players have consistently argued that Apple spends too much effort promoting its online store to the detriment of its third-party channel, reseller opinions on the Store Affilate program have been mixed.
Adam Connor, director at Apple reseller Total Recall Solutions, said he doubted the initiative -- which he said appeared to start a few weeks ago -- actually qualified as an attack on resellers.
"I guess I take a middle-of-the-road opinion on that. You know, Apple has an obligation to their own staff and shareholders to maximise their reach," he pointed out.
Many vendors had similar programs, he added.
Connor said that an online Store Affiliate initiative was an obvious step, although it appeared to be something Apple hadn't really done before in that form.
However, Apple had previously tried a .Mac affiliate program to get people to sell .Mac and related offerings, he added.
"I suppose that for anyone running a large successful website -- such as Apple's -- it would be on the cards to run an affiliate program," he said.
However, Connor was "surprised" there was enough margin in it.
"Maybe there is if you're a large manufacturer, not so much if you're a reseller," Connor said.
Apple said Store Affiliates can choose the number, type and location of Apple links on their own websites.
The program would be administered by affiliation network and platform dgm, which would provide display graphics, various activity reports, technical advice, news and other linkes to enrolled users, Apple said.
Store Affiliates would be paid by bank transfer each month as long as site referral fees that month reached at least $100, Apple said.