On Saturday, Apple opened its second Sydney CBD store in the Broadway Shopping Centre. It was all the usual happy-clapping freaky cult sort of stuff you've come to expect from Apple, but wouldn't look out of place at the Hillsong Church.
But leaving aside all the excitement of yet another Apple store opening, I'm slightly concerned about the fate of long-running Apple reseller Next Byte, which has operated just next to Broadway for as long as I can remember. Before Apple even had its first store in Australia, I took my first iPod back to Next Byte for repair and couldn't have been happier with the services the store offered.
How can a small Australian company that has been loyally reselling Apple products and services for 17 years ever hope to compete against the tech giant itself? Apple has the better location, the nicer store and the backing of pretty much the most successful company in the world right now.
Next Byte, by comparison, is much smaller, encompassing only 17 outlets across Australia at the moment, and doesn't have the market power or brand recognition that Apple automatically gets.
And it's not the first time Apple has opened up an outlet quite close to Next Byte. There was a Next Byte in Castle Towers in north-west Sydney, until Apple decided to open up its own store in 2010. From what I've been told, that Next Byte store lasted another three months before it closed down and some of the staff moved across to the new Apple store.
Calls to Next Byte's Sydney outlets were quickly passed onto the marketing department, who declined to comment on what they thought the impact of this new Apple store would be on their business, but it's believed that Next Byte is trying to differentiate itself from Apple's stores through its "premium" offerings, like experienced Apple technicians and the training courses it offers for Apple products.
Apple declined to comment, but I can imagine from Apple's perspective, more Apple stores in the one area might be a good thing, and customers might be inclined to check out Next Byte if they're already in the area to visit the Apple store.
Time will tell, but given that Apple seems to have a habit of targeting areas where Apple resellers have been successful for so many years, I have to ask, won't somebody please think of the resellers?