Apple yesterday announced a new, three-pronged European-sales strategy.

The strategy is to establish relationships with customers in the education, creative and consumer markets and is designed to galvanise sales. It was revealed by both Brendan O'Sullivan, departing Apple UK managing director, and incoming UK boss, Mark Rogers.

Rogers said: "We have absolutely the right products. We've bought technology to the desktop that no one else can offer."

They also announced that the UK is now Apple's biggest-selling European territory. Analyst firm IDC recently released figures showing Apple to hold 3 per cent of the European personal-computer market in the second quarter of 2000.

Apple has also revamped its European sales-team, creating two groups that will focus on the company's retail and education markets. O'Sullivan is moving to Europe to become education director. Thomas Lot, until now the head of the French region for Apple, has been promoted to become retail director, Europe.

Worldwide move The strategy reflects moves at Apple US, where the company recently bought its educational sales teams in-house. A legacy from the company's Xemplar days in the UK is that Apple's UK educational sales team is already in-house. For the US, the move in-house has reduced Apple's sales figures in the short term, and ultimately its stock value, according to Fred Anderson, Apple's chief financial officer.

On Apple's move into retail, O'Sullivan said: "For some time we had no product for the consumer space. What we are looking at now is how to give the customer the kind of experience they might want from Apple."

Plenty in store Central to this, the Apple MDs added, is the user experience at computer stores. With this in mind, Apple has already signed up a host of outlets in the US.

The company plans to build retail displays which exploit the aesthetic chic of Apple's machines. This strategy also includes making Macintosh software more accessible – software, we are promised, will be made more visible at point-of-sale displays.

Rogers said: "We are trying to get each of our retail outlets to carry the top 50 products chosen from our worldwide developer relations program." These will include flagship productivity titles, such as Microsoft's Office 2001 for Mac and Adobe Photoshop 6.0, and a selection of innovative games, utilities and essential software titles.

"We have to develop more of a presence for Mac software."

Software complaints The difficulty of getting Macintosh software has caused constant complaints from the Mac community. O'Sullivan said: "We have created the retail group to apply good products across the board."

This group will work with retailers, visiting their premises to offer design advice, point-of-sales materials and marketing expertise.

Apple is also engaged in what it calls "retail investment training". This is an investment in reseller's staff - from a Web-based "Learn and Earn" scheme, to encourage staff to learn about Apple products, to a series of full day seminars, on-site visits and 6,000 demo days in the UK last year. This is Apple's attempt to motivate PC-centric sales staff to learn about, and become evangelists for, Apple products.

Rogers claimed: "We are determined to find the best and make them better - and reward the good ones too."

Market strengths
Apple UK also revealed that its market share figures show it to be strongest in the creative markets: it holds 49 per cent of this segment in France, and 44 per cent in the UK. Apple is also well established in the so-called "pro-sumer" market. In the UK it has a 19 per cent market share. Professional Web-design, though, is PC-centric, with Apple holding only 4 per cent of the UK market, recent research figures show.

Business market Apple continues to be almost invisible in the corporate market, an area many critics feel it should be concentrating on. O'Sullivan said: "We've decided we have a better chance by focusing on key markets. For many years we did try to do everything – and failed."

On education, the company was sparse on facts, but O'Sullivan did reveal that he expected the best response from Europe's higher-education markets. On the company's current status in the market, he said: "We're doing only alright in Europe, we need to do what we do better. We have very high expectations in education."

Sales up Despite Wall Street's seeming loss of confidence in Apple, sales are up. The company sold 1,122,000 Macs in the fourth quarter, 2000 and Apple sold 4,558,000 Macs in the last financial year. This contrasts with 772,000 Macs in the fourth quarter of 1999. Apple has built its European market share by 120 per cent in the last year.