ACT-based Apple reseller Mac1 has geared up to open a store in Wollongong on 1 July, a move which gives it the only Apple dealership in that city as well as access to 384 schools across the region.
Ken Hogg, director at Mac1, said the Apple reseller had been seeking an opportunity to open in Wollongong for a couple of years. Finally, the site of a former Telstra shop had become available, he said.
The only other Apple dealership in Wollongong, Accent Technologies -- which traded as Business Sense -- had exited its Apple business to concentrate on telecommunications, Hogg said.
"Wollongong really focuses [us] on our regional education [business]. Education is almost 70 percent of our business," he said. "It gives us as far south as Ulladulla and as far north as Campbelltown, the whole range of schools."
The new store would be Mac1's sixth. Mac1 also had two outlets in Canberra, two in Brisbane and one in Newcastle, Hogg said.
Mac1 sales had grown 22 percent in the last 12 months, he said.
"Certainly, we're interested in Sydney and at some point in time in Melbourne, but it's important to have a good strong business where you are [before further expansion]," he said.
Hogg said he had been on the road for the last two weeks and his team had already drummed up about 20 orders for the new store.
Mac1 was taking what Hogg called a "curriculum-focused" instead of a "technology-focused" approach to selling Apple to the education sector. That meant, he said, that Mac1 asked questions about how Apple's offering could support teachers' curricula and sold on that basis.
"It's more a partnership," he said. "We think some teachers are finding themselves a little bit intimidated by the technology."
The retailer had also been looking at hiring ex-teachers, he added, and would start the new store off with a team of seven new hires led by a manager relocated from one of Mac1's Canberra stores.
Hogg said Apple had supported Mac1 as well as might be expected.
"I have heard some horror stories, but the people we deal with are really great. We really work with Apple as a team," he said. "We really have no complaints."
In the IT world, the goalposts were always moving, he pointed out.
Apple had set high targets but Mac1 had achieved them, harnessing such incentives as Caribbean cruises to encourage successful salespeople, he said.
"Apple's moving into a realm where ... their peripheral products, like their iPods, are a component. And it's not the easiest thing to do," Hogg said.