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Apple opens online sales to small resellers

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Apple appears to be taking a more relaxed attitude to online Mac suppliers, according to one US-based reseller cited by MacWeek. Don Mayer, CEO of Small Dog Electronics, told the Apple-watching Web site that Apple's latest terms and conditions for Authorized Apple Resellers permits them to sell computers online from 1 April. That's a major change. Until recently, only a small number of high-volume resellers, including MacMall and MacZone, could sell via the Web alongside Apple's own online AppleStore. However, the new Ts&Cs aren't quite as liberal as they sound at first. Resellers' Web sites are only permitted to sell to existing customers, who are forced to enter a password before they can submit their order. So while it has clearly adapted its Ts&Cs to meet the demands of resellers, it's not exactly making it easy. According to MacWeek, Mayer reckons Apple's plan here is to allow smaller resellers to set up what he calls "buying clubs", which is essentially what low-volume dealers do anyway: create a network of dedicated customers and focus on serving them. Mayer said current Small Dog customers will be sent login information and new buyers will receive a password the first time they use the site, which goes live next month. Clearly, they won't be able to buy a new Mac there and then, but "if you buy RAM you can come back and buy a G4", he said. ®

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