The new era of channel stewardship that Harvard's distribution guru Kash Rangan predicts is gaining traction. And there's a reason that Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Deutsche Telekom's wireless CEO Hamid Akhavan jointly - and personally - announced their new relationship to the world.
Apple has been very very astute in making sure that its impressive product innovations are taken to market by retail partners invested in equally exciting and innovative experience environments. But it's been a long, slow search, with willing partners few. Most consumer electronics retailers are focused on price discounting, overseas sourcing, and private label offerings in stripped-down, low-cost store environments. See my earlier comments about the state of U.S. consumer electronics retail .
So Jobs reluctantly integrated forward and proved to his independent retail partners that lifestyle retailing and consumer excitement sell. But not wanting to limit the company's market share as it did with computers, Jobs knows he needs a robust network of like-minded retail partners. Best Buy in the U.S. O2 in the UK. Deutsche Telecom in Germany.
What's important to note is the top-to-top dimension. Structuring and 'stewarding' these relationships is CEO-level activity.
Steven P. Jobs, left, of Apple and
Hamid Akhavan of T-Mobile introduced
the iPhone in Germany to go on sale Nov. 9.
Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
as published in the New York Times (9/19/07)