update Outspoken Aussie online entrepreneur Ruslan Kogan has said that many Australian retailers are relying on Apple to bolster their revenues and that he believed the company is getting ready to pull the plug.
"You may not know it yet, but the biggest retailers in Australia are Apple's bitch," Kogan said at the MediaConnect Kickstart 2011 forum this morning.
He said he'd recently spoken with investment bankers who had said that in the last quarter, the sale of Apple products and accessories made up over 30 per cent of JB Hi-Fi sales.
ZDNet Australia contacted JB Hi-Fi to attempt to verify the claim, but had not received a response at the time of writing.
"The biggest bricks and mortar retailers are relying on the genius of Apple to stay alive," he said.
Kogan was concerned that Apple could easily end this situation, by deciding to sell more of its products on its online and physical stores.
"Apple already has the wheels in motion," he said. "They're already tracking every single person that buys an Apple product", talking about cookies in receipts and people registering for iTunes.
"Apple is silently waiting for the perfect moment to pull the pin on its third-party distribution network," he said.
"It might be next year that I stand here and say I told you so. It might be the year after, but make no mistake about it, the time will come when Apple pulls out and that may well be the end of bricks and mortar as we know it."
Apple told ZDNet Australia that it does not comment on speculation.
Suzanne Tindal travelled to the Gold Coast as a guest of MediaConnect.
Updated at 3:20pm, 1 March 2011: added comment from Apple.