Ingram Micro Taps Into Apple's Core

Ingram Micro is hoping Apple will help it woo more solution providers into its exclusive group of SMB-focused resellers.

September 15, 2004

3 Min Read
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Ingram Micro is hoping a popular niche vendor with a hot brand will help it woo more solution providers into VentureTech Network, its exclusive group of SMB-focused resellers. The vendor? Apple.

Ingram Micro executives teamed up with Apple officials, including John Brandon, vice president of the Americas and Asia-Pacific at Apple, to promote the computer maker to VTN solution providers.

"These are great days for Apple, maybe some of the greatest days in the company's history," said John Brandon, vice president of the Americas and Asia-Pacific at Apple, to VTN members here in Las Vegas during the general session. "Contrary to popular belief, it's more than just the iPod."

Brandon touted the forthcoming version of OS X and Apple's xServer server line, as well as Apple's storage products. "Ingram Micro has been a very valued and important partner," he said. "We joined VTN a few years ago, and I can't tell you how happy I am with it."

In addition, Ingram Micro brought in approximately 80 "Apple Specialists," or Apple dedicated solution providers, to the event on an all-expenses-paid trip in an effort to recruit them into the VTN organization. While Apple has been involved with VTN for years, the sometime channel-distant computer maker has certainly never had a stronger presence at the distributor's VTN event, which offered several Apple-specific sessions. Brandon and Ingram Micro officials said VTN has shown good growth for Apple sales and added new members, but wouldn't elaborate with exact numbers. In fact, Apple declined to be interviewed by VARBusiness at the event.Nevertheless, Ingram Micro officials were upbeat about the Apple partnership. "We have a great relationship with Apple," said Kevin Murai, president of Ingram Micro. "We've got the biggest Apple mindshare and marketshare [in distribution]."

Reviews were mixed on Apple's presence, however, and Apple Specialists were somewhat lukewarm to the distributor's VTN proposition. Brandon joined Ingram Micro officials in a "Mac Track" luncheon for Apple Specialists to promote VTN. Brandon, who had a plane to catch, told the room of Apple resellers, "We thank you for your business," to which one audience member quickly replied, "What business?"

In his brief comments, Brandon addressed the issue of the shortage of G5 machines because of a delay in shipments. "When are we going to get more G5s? Guys, I just don't know," Brandon told the audience. "I wish I had an answer for you."

Ingram Micro executives say that such product shortages could ultimately be beneficial for the distributor, making it a stronger alternative source for Apple products. And while Apple's brand far outweighs its small computer marketshare, Ingram Micro officials have high hopes that Apple's products will become an increasingly prevalent part of a total, heterogeneous solution.

"Apple has shown the ability to reinvent itself," said Brian Wiser, vice president of marketing at Ingram Micro, "so there's really no limit to what we can do with them."In addition to Apple, Ingram Micro announced it is in the process of finalizing new agreements with Xerox and Sony. Under the agreements, the Ingram Micro Service Network, a group of more than 500 solution providers within Ingram Micro focused on warranty and maintenance services, will be authorized to service Xerox printers and Sony Vaio computers. The Sony deal will be a smaller pilot program, according to the distributor.

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