Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Something up with Apple?

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    "It was like the offices of a paper merchant in Slough, certainly not what I expected from the most carefully cultivated marketing driven brand on earth"

    Aren't almost all firms like that really? Particularly those whose main job is to shuffle boxes from one warehouse to another?

    Even the companies that have big glass offices, designer furniture and inspirational mission statements on every flat surface are usually hotbeds of incompetence, bitchiness and exploitation like everywhere else!

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • ShaunP,

    See that now MSN Music is going down the gurgler, Microsoft is recommending that people "back up" their old "play for sure" tracks to CD? For personal use only, of course. What is the point?

    Did I read on Slashdot that PFS tracks aren't compatable with the Zune??? What is the point indeed!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    "So there's your answer, set yourself up as a business and go straight to the wholesaler."

    That's the problem, not the solution. Renaissance sells directly to business customers and thus is competing with the firms it supplies: the authorised service providers who are obliged to by their Apple product from Renaissance.

    As for browsers, Safari has never crashed on me, not once. Firefox often falls over; yesterday, after a crash, the Mozilla Quality Feedback agent got itself caught in an endless loop of trying and failing to send information about the Firefox crash.

    At least it's not IE.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Bell,

    I have to spring to the defence of Renaissance - in fact, Apple support generally in NZ knocks PC support into a cocked hat.

    I've lately had quite extraordinarily, above-and-beyond-the-call support from Renaissance regarding an iPod five months out of warranty. Of course, this may be entirely due to the fact that I've amassed some good media contacts over my years writing about IT, but I'd given up totally on Apple Support in Australia (I kept being put through to ever-so-polite but NZ-ignorant US call centres) or ever getting my iPod working again.

    Two members of staff at Magnum Mac in Auckland independently went out of their way to help me when there was nothing in it for them - I wasn't presented with a bill, I hadn't bought my iPod from them and they didn't know that I occasionally write for the IT press.

    Previously, I'd experienced similar excellent service from Totallymac.com where they provided top class phone support and replaced two successive faulty iPod Video 80GBs at their own cost... Needless to say, had the devices worked properly in the first place I wouldn't have needed their support, but that's another story.

    iTunes 7.xx seems to be a giant leap backwards in many ways, as I've mentioned often on NZBC.

    As to the iTunes Store, what can you say that Russell hasn't already articulated. But even if you don't plan buying lots of 'DRM-broken' music and videos, it'll be nice to be able to get album art for the CDs you've bought over the years without having to go trawling about on the net for .jpegs, or feeling like a leper each time you accidentally click on the iTunes Store tab instead of your iPod and are tersely told: "This Apple ID has not yet been used with the iTunes Store. Please review your account information."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 49 posts Report Reply

  • sumware,

    >Ben Austin

    Yes, you can still do the claim back of GST at the airport if you are carrying the goods in hand luggage.

    I know a few people who have done this in 2006 and more or less paid their air fare to Aus.

    Check with the airlines that you can still carry laptops on their flights - some of them can't decide whether to allow Sony batteries on board (like a battery burning up in the hold is a lot safer than a battery burning up on fold down table)


    AKL • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Could this end up being a self fulfilling prophesy?

    If like me you've been thinking about a 2nd Mac (because if one is pretty then two will be prettier:)).

    And if you hear rumours that Rennaisance and their markup will be taken out of the supply chain. And you guess that if Apple come into NZ directly they'll do it with a fanfare with opening specials...

    Then you might decide to hold off purchasing this month.

    So would a sudden drop in sales indicate to Apple they need to step in quicker or scare them off NZ.

    If you want to add complete conspiracy theory to this - despite record Mac and ipod sales over the last year Rennaisance shares have continued to fall. Why? Well in the NZ sharemarket inside knowledge is everything and if a company's share price is falling steadily, past experience suggests some very bad news is coming and it really wouldn't get much worse news than Apple ditching Rennaisance as the NZ distributor.

    ooo this is fun - I hope it is illegal to speculate like this?


    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    erk of course I ment I hope it isn't illegal to speculate like this

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    Following from what Chris said above, I've also had great support from Renaissance regarding my iPod, replacing my old 40GB for the second time despite the second replacement being outside of warranty.

    Of course they knew where I worked, I'd be interested to know if they've been as helpful for anyone not working in media. Given that the iPod crapout rate seems to be anectdotally a lot higher than desirable, I wonder how far the Consumer Goods Act would step in to protect people whose expensive little white jukeboxes pass away outside of warranty. Is 13 months a reasonable expectation? 18 months?

    Speaking of which, my new 80GB has a glitch where trying to play certain songs (most notably Interpol) shuts the iPod down and it has to be turned on again. Anyone else struck this? I guess I should probably just erase it and start again, but thought it might be worth throwing it out there....

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Annabel Crerar,

    A lot of domain names are rolled over monthly -- incredibly frustrating when you stay up late refreshing dns.org.nz ad infinitum in the hopes of poaching a long-lusted-after URL in a stealth attack.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Bell,

    Yo Damian,

    I had the same problem with my 80GB, but so far only on podcasts.

    Is it doing it on podcasts, too...? Chances are this is caused by iTunes 7.xx's new Gapless Playback Information - it's something to do with Apple's proprietary encoding, according to bloggers geekier than I... with podcasts, as previously mentioned on NZBC, you can circumvent it by either:

    a) Setting the podcast/track to start playing at 00:01
    b) Setting your iPod's EQ to 'Off' for the offending items

    I suggest you try this with your tracks, too, before you do a 'Restore to Factory settings'. I've also cured the problem that way, but obviously it takes far longer...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 49 posts Report Reply

  • john shears,

    Renaissance both supplies retailers and competes with them.
    I understand also that the markups as a retailer are
    well below market norms. Harvey Norman always exclude Apple from their promos.

    North Shore City • Since Nov 2006 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Matthews,

    John, I think you'll find that is actually because of Renaissance's own rules regarding promotions on Apple products.

    Christchurch, New Zealand… • Since Nov 2006 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • paynter,

    What are the chances of Renaissance getting big enough to deal direct with Apple US, instead of going through Apple Australia? That could be a significant change, in terms of product price.

    Since Nov 2006 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • John Holley,

    Apple USA also deals with Apple Inc. Apple is set up to work in geographies so there is never likely to be any change.

    In the end it is all about volumes. As I use to say, "NZ is the flea on the tail of the dog." Our impact on Apple revenue is very small.

    The bigger problem is that the Apple Inc staff were for so long, though there has been a shift, US centric in their views. Many of them just don't get that that rest of the world may be different to them!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Tomorrowpeople,

    Renaissance have always been at the end of the food chain. They have never really been any good at small customer support.
    I agree that Ubertec are one of the best Apple reatilers in NZ (well, Auckland anyway). They are still at the mercy of Renaissance though...

    An Apple Store in NZ would be cool. Having been to Apple Stores in Santa Monica and the Beverly Centre in Hollywood I found them to be a great retail set up. Even for a long time user (read: not that excitable anymore) like myself, I found them lots of fun, if nothing else.
    I bought few accessories at the stores but I actually bought my MacBook Pro from Mac Warehouse in LA. The store itself was low rent, the sales staff on Lithium but I got it for $200 US cheaper than the Apple Store. Go figure. The likes of Ubretec will still have a place.

    More often than not the big chain stores that sell Apple product in NZ have little knowledge of the product. It's similar to the situation that Renaissance had in the late 90s where they would have an 'Apple Expo' and only have three PowerMacs on display with 128MB of RAM. With none of the machines running any useful software you couldn't actually see what these new models could do!

    My prediction for iTunes is this:
    The iTunes NZ music store will open within the next 10 days.
    The local music industry would rather take a smaller cut of something than no cut of nothing. The current industry is sufferring to the point where majors are working three times as hard to sell the same amount of product as they were previously. Titles that would have sold 50,000 units s a few years back are struggling to sell 7,500 units (gold).

    Moderator's note: The author has asked me to snip out a little bit here about a forthcoming service from Vodafone that was (a) based on confidential information and, (b) wasn't what he thought it was anyway. RB.

    The Craps tables at the B… • Since Nov 2006 • 188 posts Report Reply

  • Gary Tayler,

    itunes in inz - given the very closed sate of the inz imusic iindustry, ivery ihighly iunlikely

    in all seriousness, the local representatives of the global labels need to get bold and defiant of their bosses in LA, Tokyo and Paris... of course that is not going to happen when your mortgage payment is dependent on your salary, so don't go holding your breathe for itunes

    essentially digital distibution rights and payment is negotiated in each region with all the major labels pushing each region to grab as much money as they can, they'll hold off itunes in NZ as long as they can, otherwise they'll have to negotiate new deals with Vodafone, Telecom, Coke Tunes, Digirama and the rest so they can compete

    I'm still keener to see a lower asking price on Apple hardware, I mean $2.5k for the entry level MacNote... it's just not good enough I tells ya!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Bell,

    Tomorrowpeople wrote:

    majors are working three times as hard to sell the same amount of product as they were previously.

    This oxymoron had me laughing so hard I nearly gave away all my free promo CDs.

    And the thing I don't understand about the arguments against an iTunes Store is what we're really talking about in terms of investment. It's a middleware problem: as a first step, all they needed to do was open up the Aussie store's transaction processing to accept NZ credit card payments. How expensive would that have been? It's too late now, but set aside the labels' Kiwi catalogue for a moment, and think global: with half-decent IT, the initial surge of purchases would easily cover the IT investment required, even if Kiwis didn't buy a single song after the first couple of months. And we all know that isn't going to happen.

    It has never made sense - even if the local labels can't agree on a 'fair' licence rate, the naysayers are arguing that the reason we don't have an iTunes Store is because a) we're not important b) it wouldn't make enough money for Apple and c) the labels are subject to the whims of their global bosses ... well, it's true, they don't care about "little old New Zealand", so why don't they just take our money and run?

    As far as I can tell, it's just more industry incompetence from blinkered Luddites.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 49 posts Report Reply

  • Gary Hutchings,

    Renaissance are in the Herald today denying these rumours, ( it specifically mentions public address too :) ), and providing a distinct "no comment" to enything regarding iTunes....

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 108 posts Report Reply

  • matthewbuchanan,

    Here's that Herald link referred to above.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 163 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    the Renaissance car park also features on the front page of todays Herald...



    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 893 posts Report Reply

  • peter mclennan,

    Simon Grigg has posted this... "I have it on fairly reliable advice that you can expect the announcement of a New Zealand iTunes store within the next ten days.."
    source: http://opdiner.blogspot.com/

    AK Central • Since Nov 2006 • 159 posts Report Reply

  • peter mclennan,

    So, Russ, whats the story with vodafone then? Are they launching a new music service on nov 16, or something else?

    AK Central • Since Nov 2006 • 159 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Simon Grigg has posted this... "I have it on fairly reliable advice that you can expect the announcement of a New Zealand iTunes store within the next ten days.."
    source: http://opdiner.blogspot.com/

    I hope I'm right or I could have the proverbial egg on my face, but it came from an industry insider who would know

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • t. edison,

    I have midnight music cravings and nowhere to fulfil them.

    have you tried:

    i have & use them regularly
    no DRM and unless your tastes are mainstream
    I'd bet itunes NZ will be underwhelming for some time...

    wellingtron • Since Nov 2006 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    or for that matter Beatport.com.

    I can't see myself delving into the itunes world too soon

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

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