Macity’s Fabio M. Zambelli has interviewed former Apple Europe vice president and general manager Diego Piacentini, who now works as Amazon.com’s senior vice president and general manager international. Piacentini still holds “a great nostalgia” for Apple, and talked to Zambelli about his former company.

European ‘difficulties’ Piacentini discussed Apple’s problems in Europe, compared to the US.

“The main problem in Europe is the discordance in the various countries, which prevents an American firm, like Apple, from penetrating forcefully into all the markets, and so they have an almost zero quota in the educational sector,” he told Zambelli.

“This is a very big problem. The issues of relations and defining common strategies between Apple Europe and Cupertino are the same as those in most firms, like Amazon itself, where the tendency is to centralize the strategies but a long period passes before they are implemented.

“However, centralizing strategies doesn't always lead to efficiency. Besides, in Apple's two other main markets, America and Japan, there is either a strong presence in the educational sector, or in the other a very pleasant fanaticism on the part of the Mac user.”

Apple shops Piacentini said that he had heard that there is “a feasible chance” of Apple opening its own stores directly: “Since the staff in electronics stores usually know very little about non-Wintel products, I think it's a very good idea. Of course, we have to wait and see them in the large metropolitan areas in the US, because it's there that sales are high. As for other areas, we'll have to let time go by.”

Corporate woes Piacentini believes that Apple “received very severe blows” during Nasdaq’s recent fall because it sells “only to few markets in the computer sector, i.e. mostly the consumer market”.

“Perhaps, the next couple of months will not be brilliant, but things should fall into place,” he told Macity.

“Apple's everlasting problem is that it must depend on assembled products, or on those made specifically for Cupertino,” explained Piacentini further.

“It is a little under the thumb of these suppliers, who willy-nilly struggle to maintain a high level as regards development and volume of products which Apple, their only client, needs. Since there is no market standard, and in spite of Steve Jobs' efforts to put as many standards as possible into the Mac – microprocessors first of all - there is no alternative to this situation”, Piacentini opined.

“Relying on two suppliers (IBM and Motorola) means being always, always, always at the mercy of their deficiencies; efficiency is achieved by scale economies. Of course, to become innovators, you can't simply rely on scale economies. Motorola is a company in crisis, and IBM is a only little better off, but at the moment it's unthinkable for Apple to rely on one of these.

“I'm sure this is a terrible situation, which keeps Steve Jobs awake at night. We all know it's bad publicity to have a 500MHz processor, when others have one of 1,000MHz, but I don't think it's so important as to change the fortunes of a firm; as they say here "nice to have", but since IBM, and especially Motorola can't have... let's not worry too much about it. The customer who wants to get a good buy, will find out for himself the difference between a RISC and a non-RISC processor,” the former Apple Euro boss said.

X dream Of Mac OS X, Piacentini has high hopes: “Remember, this isn't an evolution, but a technological revolution, and not all revolutions have an immediate impact on the market. Personally, I strongly believe it will. Let's hope that the applications for Mac OS X will play their part.”