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Amelio courts software makers

Apple chairman and chief executive Gil Amelio says developers play a huge role in the company's plans to turn itself around.

SAN DIEGO?Apple Computer (AAPL) chairman and CEO Gil Amelio continued Apple's wooing of software developers today, telling executives at the Software Publishers Association conference here that they are key to Apple's turnaround.

But Amelio also dropped a potential bombshell for resellers who market Apple products, saying that Apple may reduce the number of vendors that carry its products.

"We need to be sure who is actually selling the products," said Amelio in remarks following his speech. "We're probably overextended in the number of channel partners. We may need to narrow that up."

Although no specific plan was announced, Amelio indicated dropping some resellers could make the remaining Apple dealers more profitable. "I don't think we have distinguished between people who do a good job and those who don't," he said.

Amelio offered no new information on the reorganization and layoffs he has promised this month, saying he hopes to announce the changes all at one time.

He reiterated Apple's appeals to software developers to continue to write for the Macintosh platform.

"I know many of you have invested in our platform and have not seen the returns," he said in a morning keynote. "We know that when Apple suffers, you suffer too. We have a sense of urgency to get Apple turned around."

Nor is profitability enough. "I want to recreate the Apple that can once again turn the industry on its head, an Apple that shocks, amazes, and delights people all around the world."

The Internet and "heterogeneous networks" remain central to Apple's strategy, he said, arguing that Apple's popularity in the publishing industry can be translated to the Net.

"The high walls that once stood between operating systems are going away," he said. "The barriers are quickly falling away, moving to where Macs can be full citizens in corporate environments. It's not about the costs to MIS but the productivity of workers. The Mac can give you the best of both worlds."

He also told software developers that recently aligning Apple's developer relations group with Apple marketing is a "positive signal."

"We finally have one Apple speaking in one voice," he said, adding that Apple would offer software developers "electronic shelf space" on Apple's Web site to market their products.

He also praised Heidi Roizen, a former president of SPA who quit last month as Apple's chief of developer relations after just a year on the job, saying she had educated Apple's management on the critical role of independent software developers in Apple's success.

And he vowed that this month's reorganization would address Apple's fragmented corporate culture, which he called "more like a collection of tribes than a modern industrial enterprise."