Buying an Apple the hard way

Apple logo No I’m not talking about the fruit although I do find similarities between the fruit and the people who represent Apple in South Africa. The first thing to note is that Apple products have one authorised distributor in South Africa and they are the Core Group. The same company that distributes the Nintendo products at such a ridiculous mark-up.

However it seems that there are plenty of non-authorised resellers in South Africa, but the Core Group can’t seem to decide who is who. They have a local site addressing the grey product issues and they even provide a form for validating your product serial number, albeit a non-automated process. If you compare the following two pages (page 1 and page 2) you will notice that they don’t agree on who the non-authorised resellers are. I think this is ridiculous, how is the consumer supposed to know which list is correct?

Regardless, I decided I wanted a new 15” MacBook Pro 2.8 Ghz,4GB of RAM and 320GB 7200 RPM drive. Yeah I wanted the fastest processor and hard drive that the Apple store in the US offers. I proceeded to call a few of the local resellers seeing as the local online store called the Za Store provided zero customisation options.

Authorised reseller #1: Questek Broadcast Technology

I started by calling local authorised reseller Questek Broadcast Technology for a quotation on the custom configuration I wanted. After numerous unreturned calls on Wednesday and Thursday, I finally managed to speak to the one person that seems to do quotes. She promised me a quotation on email before the end of Friday. To her credit she did call me later in the day and inform me that her email was down and she’d send it when it was up again. On Tuesday I got an email stating:

I do apologise for the inconvenience, however our systems have not been working.

Please be advised that you will be getting your quote today, I just need to finalise a few prices for you once that has been done you will be getting your quote.

So much for Friday’s excuse about the email being down, she doesn’t even have the pricing on Tuesday. Mind you, I never got the quotation on Tuesday either.

Authorised reseller #2: iStore in Clearwater Mall

I called the iStore in Cresta on Wednesday and was told to email Dimitri and he’d get me a quotation by the end of the day. I’m still waiting.

Authorised reseller #3: Digicape store in The Wedge

A few friends recommended dealing with the company DigiCape. So I called their Johannesburg store on Saturday late afternoon and my details were taken for a quotation on Monday. Once again, no quotation was received.

Non-authorised reseller #1: CAB Platinum Store in Sandton City

On Saturday I visited the slick looking CAB Platinum Store in Sandton City after being advised by friends that they are useless. The first thing I noticed was that all of the standard configurations were priced around R4000 more for the exact same box product. Ridiculous. I approached the so-called Knowledge Bar to find out about a custom configuration and was delegated to a back office woman who proceeded to quote me on a standard configuration machine with an additional 320GB 5400 RPM drive. Hmmm, useful, NOT! After I reiterated my requirements my details were taken down and a quotation was promised on Monday. To date, no quotation has been received.

After much frustration and irritation I realised that in South Africa, if you wish to buy and Apple product, you need to simply accept that the distributor, Core Group, knows what you want and its one of the standard configurations. However a few friends did suggest that I go to the USA and buy one there. My problem with this would be the warranty although I’ve heard that local warranty support has much to be desired.

Determined to get myself a Mac in time for Christmas, I called up Incredible Connection in Sandton City on Sunday afternoon and purchased a new 15” MacBook Pro with 2.53GHz processor, 4GB of RAM and 320GB 5400 RPM hard drive.

My advice to anyone considering buying a Mac, go for it, and hopefully the Core Group sorts their reseller channel out so you have a better experience that I did.

The Mac adventure begins

MacBook Pro Recently I decided that I needed wanted a new laptop computer. Being the tech-savvy geek I am, I naturally started looking at beefy machine specifications from Dell like the M6400 range. I almost fell off my chair at the price of these new powerhouse beasts.

Then at the recent Scott Hanselman talk I saw his new Dell Mini 9 up close and it triggered a new investigation into the NetBook form factor. However that was a short-lived investigation as there are hardly any decent models available on the local market to choose from and quite frankly, the cost of solid state storage (SSD) is a little too exorbitant at the moment.

I’ve often pondered the idea of owning a Mac due to the simplicity of it all, just open the box, plug it in and you’re done. Over the years I’ve built up clone PCs using the best highest spec components I could find but in the end the machines have always had some irritating problems that just bug the crap out of me. This is when I realised that quality of the individual components is the key factor and if I could find a pre-built machine that doesn’t come at too much of a premium, then I’d be more than prepared to spend the few extra bucks. So building my home desktop PC resulted in choosing a quality Intel motherboard and Core 2 Duo processor with 4GB of high-performance Transcend memory. Similarly my Windows Home Server was built using an Intel motherboard rather than a motherboard that has more bells and whistles coming from a ludicrous number of individual component vendors. Both machines to this day have not given a single headache.

Over the next few blog posts I’ll share my experiences with Mac OS/X and getting everything setup the way I imagine it.

Scott Hanselman to visit South Africa

Scott Hanselman Scott Hanselman is a well known blogger and owns the podcast Hanselminutes. He works for Microsoft as a DevDiv Community Liaison and he has offered to spend some of his vacation time with the SA Developer .NET community.

He will be in Johannesburg on the evening of Monday the 8th of December at the Microsoft offices and in Cape Town midday on the 17th of December. The topic of the events was open to community vote and ASP.NET MVC was the winner, although Silverlight managed to sneak in during the final few hours of the poll.


Add the Johannesburg talk to your calendar   8th December 2008 @ 18h30 – Johannesburg – Please RSVP online over here.


Add the Cape Town talk to your calendar   17th December 2008 @ 13h00 – Cape Town


See you there!