The long-expected move by Apple Computer Inc. into retail competition with its resellers next year will only be good for business, says one of the manufacturer’s partners.

“”I think it’s great,”” said Kristin Green, general manager of Canadian Computer of Oakville, Ont., which only sells Apple


“”It’s going to do great things to the brand.””

Apple has informed its major Canadian resellers by e-mail that the company’s retail division will open a store in the Toronto area sometime next year.

It’s not that the move was a surprise. The company has 96 storefronts in the U.S., two in Japan and just opened one in London.

No location has been set yet, although Mary Percat, Apple Canada’s sales manager, noted the company prefers “”high traffic”” areas.

One of those might be in Toronto’s Eaton Centre in the heart of the city, where there’s a Sony store. However, like many U.S. municipalities, the fastest growing areas in Toronto are in its surrounding suburbs.

Percat said she had no information on which areas the company favours.

While Apple stores are in large American cities, one is only an hour and a half drive from Toronto in the border city of Buffalo, N.Y. Green’s seen it and is enthusiastic.

“”It takes computer selling to a whole new level,”” he said. “”It’s like a high end clothing store.””

Through small dealers like Canadian Computing with its staff of nine to giant chains such as Future Shop, Apple products can be bought through about 400 outlets, but it still struggles compared to the massive sales of Wintel desktops and laptops.

Green noted that Apple resellers in Canada already face direct competition from the manufacturer through its Web site. But buyers still come to his store for the service.

“”When I was at the Buffalo store someone brought in a machine and they were told “”We’ll call you in a couple of days,”” he said.

“”We offer same day service and one-to-one tutorials.””

An endorsement such as that is a reason why Percat shrugged off the announcement.

“”It’s no surprise because Apple has had stores in the U.S. for some time,”” she said. “”It was only a matter of time before they came to Canada

“”I don’t think (our) resellers are surprised at all. I think they’ll be OK with it.””

“”Not one dealer has called me about it,”” she added.

“”It’s a great way to get access to what we call the ‘switcher’ market,”” – those PC customers that aren’t buying Macs today. That’s why I think it should co-exist quite peacefully with our deals, who serve mostly a Mac market.””

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