Apple Paris protest plan pulled

Disgruntled users to meet with Apple UK instead...

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Angry British Mac users have called off their planned disruption of Apple CEO Steve Jobs' keynote speech at Apple Expo Paris on Wednesday.

Group leaders have instead been persuaded to meet with the head of Apple Europe and "key Apple UK executives" at the company's UK HQ sometime after the show - presumably after 19 September, too, which is the deadline for interested parties to submit questions for the team who will meet Apple.

The protest was originally called to bring to a wider public the injustices UK Mac users feel they have suffered over the cancellation of the British English version of the Mac OS. The team also wished to show their disapproval of Apple's apparent disregard for its more ardent users, and the legal threats the company has made at various fan sites, such as iCards.

Other issues the team wished to raise include the plight of smaller Apple resellers, who are being forced to buy from larger mail order dealers because it's cheaper than using Apple's official distributors, the company's poor showing in the UK High Street, and its servicing procedures.

All of which are fair points to raise, but it has to be said, the group is unlikely to gain much of a positive response from Apple Europe. These days, Apple's strategy is run from the centre, leaving the UK and the rest of Europe little more than sales and marketing operations. They're unlikely to have much of a say in OS and other product roll-outs - and that includes sorting out Web sites who get in the way of the company's wider plans.

The channel issues aren't likely to any more easily resolved. Support for small resellers and schemes to get more Macs into the High Street are down to the resources a company can bring to bear, and resources are governed by the money brought in by sales. Apple has understandably chosen to focus on channels that bring in the highest revenues, and they, alas, don't include small resellers, good though many of them are.

Apple's showing on the High Street is as much about Dixons' stranglehold on that market as anything else, and given the poor way the retailer has sold Macs in the past, you can hardly blame Apple for being more interested in selling through the group's out-of-town chains, such as PC World. And Apple appears to do reasonably well out of its main High Street outlet, the John Lewis Partnership.

In short, there are no clear answers Apple Europe's mandarins can give the protestors, just as Apple has been unable to do for the last ten years or so. The channel issues raised this week have been around for ages, and boil down to the long-held desire by both users and Apple itself that it sell more machines in the UK. We'd like to see that too, but short of a sea-change not at Apple but within the British PC sales channel itself, we're sceptical. ®

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