The world’s biggest technology company, Apple, has quietly established a South African office and now appears set to grow its presence in the local market.
It’s the first time the company has had a direct office in South Africa since 1999, when it disinvested in favour of a distributor model.
The company has appointed French national Nicolas Rochas as country manager. Rochas has been with Apple since 2004 and has worked for the company in France, the UK and India.
Rochas was on Wednesday reluctant to comment immediately on Apple’s plans for its South African office.
However, well-placed industry sources tell TechCentral that the office has been established, at least at first, to focus mainly on managing Apple’s relationships with local mobile operators, specifically around sales of the iPhone, which it has always sold directly to the network providers rather than through a local distributor.
According to industry sources, it has been difficult for Apple to manage its relationship with South African operators remotely, which is what it has done until now.
Backing this up is the fact that Apple has hired former Huawei South Africa sales director Michael Marcus as head of telecoms in the new subsidiary. Marcus has years of telecommunications industry experience, having also spent three years as a senior commercial leader at BlackBerry and before that as a key account manager at Samsung in South Africa.
It appears Apple’s decision to invest in a local office will not affect the company’s relationship with Core Group, which has distributed its computer products — Macs, iPods and iPads — on an exclusive basis for many years.
Core is expected to continue to manage the distribution of these products in the South African market. A spokesman for Core could, however, not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Apple products have been available in South Africa since the launch of the Mac in 1984, through a thriving grey market that existed prior to the end of apartheid when its computers were imported through a distributor in Botswana.
Apple established a direct presence in South Africa in 1992, but withdrew in late 1999 for financial reasons, according to the local subsidiary’s former marketing manager, Brian Seligmann. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media