The New Apple Store Next Door

Michael Oh, president of Apple reseller Tech Superpowers, was forced to make some quick changes to his business model in response to the opening of the largest Apple store in the United States just 50 feet away from his own business. How should channel partners react when vendors hone in on their home turf?

When Apple began construction two years ago on its new three-level, glass-walled Boylston Street Apple Store just 50 feet away from the Boston-based Apple reseller Tech Superpowers, company president Michael Oh says he first learned about it from an article in the Boston Globe, not from anyone at Apple. And to add insult to injury, the Boston Globe reported recently that, according to Apple executive Ron Johnson, the company had been watching the space since 2000 with the intention of opening a store there. However, nobody had told Oh.

There’s no question that the facility, which opened last week and is now the largest Apple store in the United States, poses a real threat to Oh’s $3.5-million-a-year business. “Our tactic has always been to take all comers that need service and sales: consumers, prosumers, small to medium sized business, and large business,” he said. “That Apple store, obviously, will basically take away any of the consumer business, and it will certainly infringe on the prosumer business: people that are photographers or video editors, freelancers, people that work on their own or maybe in a team of two people, that kind of stuff.”

And so, in the couple of years since Oh learned of the coming Apple store on Boylston, he’s shifted his company’s focus into the areas that an Apple store isn’t likely to cover. “We’re doing more data recovery services, and we’re doing more rentals of laptops for people that have their computers in for repair,” he said. “Those are two great examples of services that we’ve specifically developed over the last couple of years when we knew the Apple store was coming in, because we knew the Apple store could refer us that business.”

In that way, Oh suggested, the new store could actually be a good thing for him. “Regardless of what happens in terms of the store taking our consumer business, there’s going to be a real increase in business for some of those types of services, as well as the more traditional things like onsite services which Apple stores don’t touch at all,” he said.

And the same is true of business users. Pointing to a recent Business Week cover story about Apple’s growing presence in the corporate world, Oh said that creates a perfect opening for resellers like Tech Superpowers. “They’ve just never made an effort in the business and enterprise markets… which, for independent resellers like us, gives us an opportunity."

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TAGS: services,consumer,Enterprise,Apple Store,reseller

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