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Apple parts ways with some resellers

A number of Apple Computer's resellers are no longer authorized to sell Macs as of April 1, following a shake-up that occurred during the company's annual renewal process.

    A number of Apple Computer's resellers are no longer authorized to sell Macs as of April 1, following a shake-up that occurred during the company's annual renewal process.

    Dell Computer confirmed this week that it is one of those that is no longer authorized to sell Apple gear. The company, which said it remains in talks with Apple, had been selling the iPod since last year. It is unclear where Apple stands with some of its other prominent resellers.

    Apple declined to provide a list of all of the resellers that are no longer authorized, but said in a statement provided to CNET News.com on Thursday that the dealers that were not renewed accounted for less than 1.5 percent of sales last year.

    "As part of the regular renewal process with Apple Authorized Resellers, we invited our resellers in the U.S. to sign new agreements as of April 1, 2003," The company said. "Resellers that have not currently renewed made up less than 1.5 percent of Apple's worldwide revenue in 2002."

    According to sources, some of the dealers in question were unhappy with new clauses inserted by Apple into its contract, including one that gave Apple the right to inspect its resellers' business records even after a dealer was no longer selling the company's products. An Apple representative declined to comment on the new contract.

    A group of smaller dealers is suing Apple over its business practices, alleging, among other things, that the company gives preferential treatment to its own retail outlets. Apple has been opening its own nationwide network of stores, with more than 50 opened so far and others in the works.

    Apple said negotiations with some of the resellers are ongoing.

    "Since contracts only expired recently, some contracts continue to be signed," the company said in a statement.