Optus has added significantly extended Apple’s business channel by declaring its intention to open 220 “small business zones” in its retail stores, all staffed by specially-trained personnel and showcasing the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.
Optus has billed the initiative as a boost for regional businesses that want and need to become more efficient.
“Simply buying a device off the shelf, charging it up and switching it on won’t help a small business unlock its full potential,” said Optus CEO Allen Lew at the launch of the concept in Rockhampton yesterday.
The small business zones will each have dedicated staff who receive business-centric Apple education. Most will be current Optus workers, but around 20 will be new hires. CRN asked Optus what hours the Apple-trained staff will work, to understand how the zones will serve businesses, but the carrier did not reply to that question.
CRN understands that Apple sees the Optus arrangement as giving it better reach for business-specific product education,and appreciates that small business needs more than consumer-grade instruction.
So does Optus. “We believe small businesses need this type of support, so rather than simply selling a device and wishing them the best, we want to make it simple for our customers to get the help they need in store,” Mr Lew said.
Optus has emphasised the value of this effort for regional customers. Left unsaid was that such folk often live hundreds of kilometres from the nearest Apple Store, the iTemples that Apple uses for detailed introductions to its products in larger cities.
iPads and iPhones are of course staples of carriers’ retail presences and Apple trains its channel to sell them well. But dedicated business advisors are harder to find. This joint effort therefore gives Optus increased small business muscle and Apple more access into markets that can’t sustain its larger outlets.
Solace for local Apple resellers comes from the deal's exclusion of the Mac.