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Apple to end AppleStore exclusives

Resellers to be offered AppleStore-only kit too

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In a bid to boost business, Apple may be eliminating the exclusive deals it offers its AppleStore customers, according to US resellers.

Mac dealers told Apple-watching Web site MacWeek.com that kit Apple had reserved for its own online retail operation will now be offered through third-party channels too.

Machines currently only available through the AppleStore include a 500MHz Power Mac G4 Cube, a lime-coloured iBook, and the Pro Mouse and Pro keyboard peripherals.

The move to open sales of the 500MHz Cube follows Apple's attempt to grow shipments by offering a $300 cash rebate (and now £250 in the UK) on Cube-plus-monitor purchases. Presumably, Apple figured that if it was going to offer the higher-speed Cube to resellers, it may as well go the whole hog and eliminate other AppleStore exclusives too.

The motivation behind the deal is clear: to shift the company's extra inventory of kit, enlarged by poor sales of the Cube and reduced demand for Macs from education buyers. The plan widens the number of outlets from which buyers can obtain the company's full product range - it also neatly shifts unsold machines away from Apple and onto dealers' shelves.

That won't please the channel. "Right now, because of the glut of inventory, everyone is so stocked up on everything. It almost contributes to the problem rather than helping," said Jim Morasco of online reseller ClubMac, cited by MacWeek.com.

That situation should, however, be eased as the Christmas buying period kicks in. ®

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