Apple and Thus are forging an alliance to deliver a default ISP (Internet Service Provider) for UK Macintosh Users, with the award-winning Demon service.

Demon, a Thus subsidiary, will become the exclusive ISP of Apple’s Internet Setup Software, which will ship on all Macs sold in the UK. Thus provides voice, data, Internet and call-centre services.

Apple stands to make a “substantial amount” from the deal, with Demon paying a fee for every new Mac customer it signs up. Demon's basic dial-up account costs £11.75 per month, according to the company's Web site. Previously, Apple gave users a choice of ISPs at initial startup, including BT and Direct Connection. Direct Connection, now called Netscalibur told Macworld that it is now focusing on enterprise clients.

Demon promises a "full range of well-priced services" for Macintosh users. New users will get a 30-day free access trial if they select Demon as their ISP.

Customer experience Vice president and general manager of Apple Europe, Pascal Cagni, said: “Demon will work with us to further enhance our customers’ Internet experience.”

Thus chief executive Bill Allan said: “Teaming up with Demon will allow Apple’s UK customers to get the most from their Macs whether for personal Web-browsing or running their businesses.”

Next up – the rest of Europe The deal is Apple’s first outside of the US. Apple partnered with EarthLink at San Francisco’s Macworld Expo in January 2000. At a meeting with Macworld, Cagni announced that this was the “first of many deals in Europe”.

“We will be announcing similar deals in four or five major European countries in the next year,” he told Macworld.

Apple chose the UK as the first non-US country to offer such a deal because it is “our largest market in Europe,” the Apple Euro boss told Macworld.

“In many ways, this deal will be more profitable for Apple than the US EarthLink deal because only 30 per cent of UK homes are already connected to the Internet, compared to 65 per cent in the US,” he explained.

Apple will not be investing in either Thus or Demon, however - as it had done with EarthLink in the US.

Ideal partner Apple’s ISP product manager Mark Murphy revealed that he has been working on the deal for six months. He said that he had “worn out some serious shoe leather” seeing “just about every ISP in the UK”.

Demon was the “ideal strategic partner”, Murphy explained. “We were looking for a stable partner, and Demon has had an excellent track record since 1992. We’ve been working together for four years,” he added.

Apple “went back to all available surveys to find the right partner”, said Murphy.

Demon was voted “Best Overall ISP” in ‘The Net’ magazine in its June 2001 survey, “Best ISP on The Planet” in the December 2000 survey by ‘Internet Magazine’, and has also topped a poll on ISP customer satisfaction by JD Power & Associates.

Cagni added: “We wanted to ensure a quality of service today and tomorrow”. Demon is working on offering a range of broadband services - including further ADSL services - in the near future.

Tomorrow’s Net services Phil Male, Thus’s executive director of operations, told Macworld that his company is “very focussed on broadband and media-rich environments”. “We have a sophisticated level of infrastructure, including the only complete fibre-optic network in the UK apart from British Telecom”.

Cagni told Macworld that Apple is “obsessed” with getting all its customers a email address, and that “this deal will help us do that”.

Apple’s managing director for the UK and Ireland Mark Rogers told Macworld that the deal was “perfectly timed” with the roll-out of Mac OS X, which is now installed on all new shipping Macs.