1998: I don’t usually write editorials on a Saturday morning, but an article on MacCentral (Apple Canada Scaling Back?) got my attention. Although I’ve lived in the States most of my life, Canada is my homeland and the place most of my relatives call home.
Fact is, it’s hard to tell Canucks from Yanks at a glance. Canadians are a bit more likely to indulge in a bit of patriotism by wearing the Maple Leaf, but that’s probably the biggest visible difference.
Canada has a very different history. It had no war of independence. In fact, a lot of British colonists moved to Canada because of the American Revolution. The great land to the north was granted home rule in 1867, nearly a century after the Boston Tea Party.
Canadians tend to be more polite, more cosmopolitan, and less nationalistic than their southern neighbors. And they sometimes feel a bit slighted by the United States.
Canada is a different country with a different society. Two languages, with English predominant outside of Quebec. And it’s mostly the Queen’s English with British spellings, although with a heavy dose of American content from TV, music, and movies.
The US is dominated by cities and metropolitan areas. Unless you live between the Mississippi and the Rockies, you’re probably no more than an hour from a major metropolitan area. And that’s where you’ll find CompUSA and most local Apple dealers.
Canada has cities and metropolitan areas: Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver top the list. But much of Canada is smaller towns and cities, often areas that could never support a Computer City, let alone a large Apple specialist.
In this environment, Apple’s best hope is the mom-and-pop computer store and the value added reseller (VAR). Because of the volume Apple USA expects of Apple dealers, expectations are also high for Canadian dealers and VARs – perhaps too high in light of Canadian realities: smaller urban areas, relatively high unemployment, and a seriously devalued dollar.
Apple Canada should know that it can’t treat Canadian stores and VARs as though they were American stores and VARs. To do so, and to cut back on Canadian Apple shops based on American paradigms, would significantly reduce Apple’s presence in much of Canada.