This week, Apple Germany announced that Vobis, a nationwide chain of PC stores, will start selling Apple products in 30 of its stores. Apart from Macs, the selected Vobis stores will also sell a selection of Mac software and peripherals. Vobis will not sell the CD-ROM iBook and the dual 1.0 and 1.25 GHz PowerMacs, but the rest of Appleis Mac line will be available.
Vobis will carry Apple products in stores in Aachen, Berlin (4), Bremen (2), Dresden (2), Frankfurt am Main (2), Hamburg (3), Ingolstadt, Karlsruhe, Kassel, Marburg, Muenchen (3), Nuernberg (2) Passau, Potsdam, Regensburg, St. Augustin, Ulm, Wiesbaden and Wuerzburg.
According to Apple Germanyis Frank Steinhoff, the deal with Vobis gives Apple an "excellent, nation-wide presence in the German market." The Vobis deal fits into Apple Germanyis strategy of partnering with high-street electronics and computer stores in an effort to get Apple out of the specialist areas and into the consumer market space. Earlier this year, Apple made a similar partnership with Deutsche Telekom.
Vobis has a bit of a chequered history. Founded in 1975 as Vero GmbH in Aachen, Germany, it grew to be Europeis biggest PC retailer by the mid-nineties. In 1997, Vobis had 776 stores in eleven countries, and had a turnover of Û 2.4 billion. Shortly afterwards, however, the firm collapsed and got sold off into different (national) sub-groups.
Reformed in 1999, Vobis, which also makes its own Wintel-compatible PCs, now has a 5.3% market-share of the German PC market. Fujitsu-Siemens is the biggest player, while HP and Dell come second and third. It recently launched its own Windows-compatible laptop line.