ZDNet Offers Detailed Report Of iMac Shortage, Discrepancies Between Apple Stores & Independent

ZDNet has published a report that details discrepancies between iMac availability at its own Apple Stores and that of other retailers. The report, penned by industry reporter Joe Wilcox, says that many dealers have waiting lists that are weeks long while some Apple Stores have stock on hand. From the article:

When Apple opened its first retail store in May, company executives pledged not to put their own stores before long-loyal Mac dealers. But dealers say that is not whatis happening.

"Apple pumps a lot of hot air at us...telling us weire a top priority and they really need us," said one angry Northeastern dealer, who asked not to be identified. "But when it comes down to actually getting the product, itis very clear who the top priority is, and thatis the Apple Store online and physical retail stores."

Apple declined to comment about the shortage or its business relationship with dealers.

Appleis apparent approach of putting its retail stores before dealers may be necessitated by the need to show Wall Street that the retail strategy can succeed. After opening its first two stores in May, Apple expanded to 27 locations by the end of the year. But the Cupertino, Calif.-based company failed to show a profit at retail last year, as originally forecast. The retail stores posted a slight loss instead, according to Apple filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Appleis got a two-pronged in-house distribution method with the stores and their Web site, which does a good chunk of their business," said NPDTechworld analyst Stephen Baker. "As a company, they have a responsibility to protect where the majority of their business is going. As a public company, they have to sell to where theyire going to make the most money."

The article goes on to cite several retailersi frustrations with the situation:

Until the iMac shortage, many dealers were more accepting of the increasing deference given to the Apple retail stores, although some expressed misgivings. But limited availability of the new iMac has heightened tensions during what is typically a slow selling period for Macs.

One Midwestern dealer in a trendy area reported having received about two dozen high-end iMacs, which in no way "satisfied demand," he said. The Apple Store down the road, by contrast, had been getting regular shipments of the high-end iMac, according to a sales representative. Both stores were out of new iMac stock on Tuesday.

A Southeastern dealer, who struggled to contain her frustration, said Appleis recent actions had made staying in business very difficult. "Weire in worse trouble now because we canit get the machine everyone wants," she said. "We might have to close the store tomorrow because of one thing: We canit get flat-panel iMacs."

The store has more than 60 outstanding iMac orders but has received only a handful of the top-of-the-line iMacs. Her store is about a 30-minute drive from an Apple retail shop that, according to an Apple Store sales representative, has sold several hundred new iMacs.

There is a lot more information not quoted above, and we recommend reading the full article.