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Apple grows rapidly in Cambodia

iOneBEST
iOne CEO Julius Ling, left, holds up a Mac Mini with iOne president and director Sok Sopheak at the iOne training room in Canadia Tower. PHOTO BY STUART ALAN BECKER

MOBILE technology will play a leading role in bringing down the price of the internet in Cambodia says Julius Ling, managing director of Phnom Penh’s “premier reseller” of Apple computers, iOne, which is on the ground floor of the Canadia Bank tower.

Ling says reduced internet costs will dramatically increase sales of personal computers and related devices, as it has in neighbouring Vietnam.

“Our nearest neighbour Vietnam experienced IT products growth of 300 to 400 percent. We believe this will come to Cambodia if the internet cost is reduced to $10 to $20,” he said.

“Mobile technology will play the leading role in bringing down the price of the internet,” he said.

Although iOne sells all the Apple computers and iPads, they don’t sell the iPhone, which are often bought by resellers in neighboring countries and  sold through many hundreds of mobile phone shops.

Yet one of the advantages of having an iPhone, an iPad and an iMac computer on the desk is they are all designed to update each other automatically, making groups of Apple devices some of the most easily connected, user-friendly and seamless systems in the marketplace – which explains their popularity among young professional Khmers.

In the personal computer marketplace, the Apple family of products has always been distinct from the traditional “IBM PC”, which could come from any brand name like Dell or Compaq, and people can even build their own PC, buying all the components, plugging them in, and then loading the software, usually Microsoft Windows and its successive operating systems, which today is Windows 7.

But when considering the Apple-Macintosh business model – both the hardware and the software are made by Apple which means the operating system (OS), including the new Mac “Lion” OS, is much less vulnerable to viruses and hacking, not only because the market is smaller, but because customers buy the licensed OS each time.  In the case of PCs, there’s a 50-50 chance that the operating system is a pirated copy, even with the purchase of a new computer in Cambodia.

According to iOne’s Senior IT Supervisor, tech guru Ka Phierak, the way Mac builds their operating system on a unique foundation, the level of security is very high.

“It is hard to hack the Mac OS and we don’t see any virus attacks on the Mac,” he said. “This is one product from Apple. The hardware and the OS really controls everything together. What you got when you buy a Mac is a stable, reliable device with a nice design.”

Established in 1976 in Cupertino, California, Apple is now one of the largest companies in the world, with nearly 50,000 employees worldwide and global sales in 2010 of $65.23 billion. Charismatic co-founder and now chairman and CEO Steve Jobs has sought to maintain in “innovation-based” culture at Apple Inc which treats computers as consumer products, originally an unusual posture in the IT industry, but highly effective in recent years, especially with the advent of the iPad.

Apple Inc made $6 billion from the sale of 9.25 million iPads during April, May and June this year – representing more money than the entire balance of Apple’s other computers. That compares with the same period the previous year when Apple made just under $5 billion in sales from Mac computers. Some of the astonishing sales come as a result of large corporations buying iPads for their employees – as well as tremendous sales in schools – something that even Apple Inc had not predicted.

Here in Cambodia, premier Apple reseller iOne offers free classes for all Mac users, whether or not they buy one. “As long as you are a Mac lover, even if you don’t buy you can go to an open class for everyone in Cambodia,” Julius Ling said.

The iPhone now accounts for nearly half Apple Inc’s sales. “When apple moved into the mobile industry everybody was laughing,” Ling said.  “Look at apple results last week. They are now leading in the smartphone sector.”

The iPad, which appeared in April last year, sold 3 million units in the first 80 days and 14.8 million units during 2010 worldwide. The iPad 2, which is lighter and thinner, was released in March this year and now more than 15 million iPads have been sold, more than all other tablet PCs combined.

“When the iPad came out in April last year, everyone was dying for the stock,” Ling said. The iOne store has several models of the iPad 2 in stock, costing about $500.

Back in 2006, when iOne started in Cambodia, there was no certainty in the market if Apple products would be successful.

“Our store had 50 square metres in 2006. There was no iPhone, no iPad. People didn’t even know there were computers called Mac.”

Between 2007 and 2010, iOne experienced between 200 and 300 percent growth.  Sales are now estimated at about 500 units per month.

In terms of what differentiates a Mac from a traditional PC, one is a deliberate push to make things good looking, slim, lightweight and easy to use. Another is that Apple/Mac products tend to be used in publishing, creative design, television and movies.

Ling says there’s an incorrect perception that Macs are difficult to use – and that they are more expensive than PCs.

“With our two-hour training, we have users ranging from 10 years old to 60,” he said. “Our products are very much lifestyle products – and for all ages. Buying a PC will probably cost you the same price. Comparing to similar specifications in the PC brands, Apple is actually cheaper,” he said.

Ling predicts stable, steady growth in the coming years for Apple in Cambodia. “There will be very stable and very positive growth year by year. We want to bring people, whether they are students, when they step into society, they need a device – we are here to provide a quality products and service. Instead of buying overseas, we provide sales and service right here in Cambodia and we have been here since 2006.”

The iOne group, headed by president and director Sok Sopheak, now has five retail shops in Cambodia – four in Phnom Penh and one in Siem Reap. The iOne group also offers free training for all Mac people, including their own customers, as well as computer cleaning and repair services. The iOne website is www.ione2u.com.

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