Mac App Store Could Be a Boon for Apple Solution Providers
Solution Providers don’t need to worry about competition from Angry Birds: Enterprise Edition.
In fact, the must-have app for the iPhone and iPad – and now the Mac via Apple’s recently launched Mac App Store – and its ilk may be good for the channel and for Apple resellers looking to boost their businesses.
Apple’s Mac App Store opened shop on Jan. 6, and according to solution providers and analysts, it won’t be taking business away from the company’s resellers, and it may even help them generate new revenue streams from customized solutions inspired by things customers find in the app store.
Apple said more than one million apps were downloaded on the first day in a statement the company released on January 7. The company did not have updated sales figures, a spokesperson told Channel Insider.
Kris Palen, director of marketing and communications for TusHaus Computer Services in Milwaukee, Wis., said that she doesn’t see the Mac App Store as competition, but rather another resource for her customers.
"It completes the package," Palen said. "There are a lot of really great things that are out there."
The business opportunity for TusHaus, she said, will come from customized solutions.
"We look at the whole Mac world holistically, because we’re helping a lot of our clients integrate Mac into their enterprise," she said.
As more organizations integrate the iPad into their enterprise IT portfolios, they’re likely to find gaps in the available software offerings. "We want folks to take advantage of the things that are out there, and if there’s something they want that they can’t find that’s where we’ll step in."
For Louis Hardin, president of Apple reseller Hardin Computer in Arlington, Texas, the App Store hasn’t been an issue.
"I have not seen much of any difference for us. We’re just now starting to get more into the retail front," Hardin said. The company recently moved headquarters to one with a larger showroom to increase their retail operations.
"Our retail sales will increase, but for the last five years or so it has really been more of a focus on service," Hardin said. "There are so many titles out there, that any time we’ve stocked software, it’s not necessarily what people want."
The App Store, he said, takes the pressure off. "I feel like the app store is going to be a good thing, considering a client can get anything they want in the first place. And there’s not a whole lot of margin on software anyway."
Darren Bibby, program director at IDC Software Channels Research, said solution providers shouldn’t see the app store as a threat because business customers will need higher-end products that require integration and upkeep.
"A lot of the apps, especially on the iPhone and have been for fun… there are some really cool thinks you can bring down to get a view on your iPad or your iPhone," Bibby said.
"There’s tremendous success when you’re talking about consumer applications. It’s not going to be the same panacea for business applications, especially if you get into more complex things for businesses to buy that are also priced in the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars."
Yet certain aspects of the app store experience may cross over, Bibby said, like user-generated reviews and commentary that will help customers evaluate their options. And he anticipates business app stores will emerge, but for lower end applications.
"I think that if it’s a simpler application, a simpler solution to install, especially cloud or SAAS applications, those will be able to go through these app stores. As soon as there’s real complexity or business domain expertise, you’re never going to replace a consultant or a reseller," he said. "It would very much surprise me for anybody to be invoicing $10,000 over the Internet."