Business Week thinks independent Mac dealers will find it increasingly difficult to survive.

It says: "Jobs and co. have a big problem with independent Mac dealers," and suggests Apple eliminate the independents that are close to one of the company's US Apple Stores. This may affect the market in Europe if, as expected Apple Stores open hear in the next 6-18 months.

The piece looks at the politics of Apple's US reseller ecosystem. Apple itself is now a subject of litigation from some of its resellers, with some, for example, MacTech choosing to quit Mac business altogether.

Apple has to define what it wants, says Business Week. After all, it surmises, "Apple can also pocket far higher margins by selling its machines at retail price at its own outlets, rather than selling wholesale to the independents".

Ten per cent of Apple's sales now come from its own stores, the report explains, citing Needham's analyst Charles Wolf. Wolf estimates Apple is getting a 52 per cent internal rate of return on its store investments,.

"Apple's doing a better job selling through its stores. Its outlets attract not just Macheads but Windows users who might switch," the report explains.

Business Week suggests Apple employs more clarity in its dealings with resellers and invest more in training and support for them.

"Now that Apple has taken a stronger stance toward defending and extending its brand, this should apply everywhere in the retail chain," says Business Week.