Guitar Center Now An Apple Reseller; Ramps Up Mac Support

Guitar Center (GC), the largest professional audio recording equipment and musical instruments retailer in the US, has started stocking its 120-plus stores with the entire line of Apple products and will soon start training a number of specialists in each store to be iApple expertsi.

Audio engineers, producers, recording artists, and musicians now have an entirely new channel to access the computing platform that has proven to be the premier choice for audio professionals globally, including Emagicis digital audio production tools. GCis customers can now order an Apple computer configured to their individual requirements and tested prior to delivery. Customers will not be able to buy products through a Guitar online store, David Angress, executive vice president of Guitar Center, told The Mac Observer.

"For both companies, this is a good partnership." - Gary Holdsworth, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities

The official announcement was made back in October, but it was only in the past few weeks that Guitar Center began to fully sell and support the Apple product line at the majority of its locations. Much of the hoopla surrounding the announcement was meant to coincide with the opening of Guitar centeris flagship store, which opened November 20 in New York City.

Guitar Centeris new flagship store in
New York City, seen here, is just one
of 120-plus stores across the US
stocking Appleis full product line.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)
"The addition of Apple products at Guitar Center has already been extremely popular with our customers," said Angress. "Weire excited about what we can offer customers moving forward. It just made sense for us to become a reseller of Mac products because I think the majority of our customers use Macs to make music."

"The combination of top-of-the-line music production tools, like Logic, with the Power Mac G5 makes the Mac a powerful, full-featured digital audio workstation," said Tim Cook, Appleis executive vice president of Worldwide Sales and Operations. "Weire excited that Guitar Center will significantly expand the availability of our pro audio solutions to their customers."

The addition of Apple products at Guitar Center is seen by industry analyst as a good move for both companies. "This helps solidify Apple as a leader in music technology by getting their products out in a marketplace that Guitar Center dominates," commented Gary Holdsworth, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities. "Guitar Center has found its niche, despite its name, and is one of the top retailers that musicians use. For both companies, this is a good partnership."

Holdsworth also believes that despite profit margins on Apple products not being the greatest, Guitar Center will make itis money on software and peripherals. "The money to be made is on CPU add-ons," he said. "While CPUs, displays and such only have margins of maybe 10 to 20 percent, software and other hardware adds have profit margins of 10 to 150 percent. Thatis where the profit is."

Guitar Center is expecting to open 16 to 18 new Guitar Center stores during 2004, according to Holdsworth.

In addition to stocking and displaying Apple products, Guitar Center will also start training a certain number of its sales staff in every location on the nuances of Macintosh-related products. "Weire going to make sure our sales associates know the products and the solutions related to the music industry," said Angress. "Our company prides itself on knowing what musicians need. Macs are a little more complicated than a set of drums from a technology standpoint, so our people have got to know what theyire talking about or the products wonit sell."

Training is expected to begin in the next 60 days, Angress said.