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(Nikkei BP Group)

(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)

  • Apple Computer to Offer BTO Options in Japan: Sr. VP
  • February 25, 1999 (TOKYO) — Apple Computer Inc. is reinforcing its sales base by launching the Apple Store direct-marketing scheme in Japan with a build-to-order PC option.
    At the same time, its best-selling iMac continues to be in short supply.

    Nikkei Personal Computing magazine interviewed Mitch Mandich, Apple Computer’s senior vice president for worldwide sales, who was visiting Japan during the recent MACWORLD Expo/Tokyo ’99 near Tokyo, on the future course of the Apple Store in Japan and the problems with distributing the iMac here.

    Nikkei Personal Computing: How is the Apple Store idea going in Japan?

    Mandich: The object of extending the Apple Store to Japan is to increase the options potential Japanese customers can choose when buying computers.

    In the United States, the Apple Store accounts for around 10 percent of our total sales, but in Japan it appears to be taking some time before achieving the same percentage. However, we are aware of the importance of revitalizing existing sales routes, aiming to tap the market for professional users such as designers and publishers. So I hope our distribution partners will strengthen their sales capabilities.

    Nikkei PC: Do you plan to extend the so-called build-to-order (BTO) capabilities to the Apple Store in Japan to offer customized computers to users?

    Mandich: We will begin offering BTO capabilities to the Apple Store in Japan within a few months.

    The Apple Store’s strategy is very important. We are going to enable consumers to purchase software, Universal Serial Bus (USB)-port devices, FireWire (IEEE1394)-related peripherals and other third party products at the Apple Store from now on. At the Apple Store, users will be able to buy any products they want in the near future in Japan as we are proceeding with the strategy on a global basis.

    Nikkei PC: As you know, in Japan the new iMac has been flying off the store shelves and is in short supply. Are there any production problems with the iMac?

    Mandich: We are endeavoring to produce it at full capacity to meet all the demand from Japanese users. Inventories are steadily improving, and I believe there is no big problem with distributing iMacs to users at present.

    The iMac production changes depending upon color, but we will take appropriate measures to coordinate supply-demand relations for the iMac. Consumers will get any color they like.

    Nikkei PC: The price of an old, bondi blue-colored iMac was cut to 128,000 yen (US$1,050) when new iMac in five colors was released. Those who bought an old iMac at a higher price were quite upset about the price cut.

    Mandich: Computer owners understand that technology is advancing so rapidly that computers will become obsolete soon. No wonder a new product is released in the market every several months.

    Apple will continue efforts to introduce state-of-the-art technologies and designs into our computers. However, we are confident that our computer can satisfy users, even if they bought older models.

    Nikkei PC: There are some computer shops that incurred losses by having to sell old iMacs at a lower price than the wholesale price. Do you think this tarnished the relationship with the retailers?

    Mandich: Though we announced the price cut for the old iMac in exchange for releasing the new iMac, they can secure profits on the sale of new iMac in the long run. To be sure, there is a problem of mutual relations with such stores, but it is not a major concern. We are in general maintaining a good cooperative relationship with them.

    Related stories:
    Most Japanese iMac Buyers are New Mac Users, Jobs Says
    Low-Priced PCs, Desktops with LCD a Hit: Nikkei PC Survey
    Uniform iMac Sales Method Prevails at Stores: Apple Japan Director
    New iMac Model Sells Well in Japan, But Retailers Complain

    (Nikkei Personal Computing)

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