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Apple’s inside Best Buy

8 Years ago, Best Buy took a Henry Ford like stance on the colors of Apple Macintosh computers being sold in their stores – they told Apple that Best Buy customer’s could have any color Mac they wanted as long as the color was black (Actually, it wasn’t that strict, and Mac’s didn’t come in black anyway….but Best Buy did take a stand and tell Apple that they would only carry popular colors in inventory.  The company wasn’t willing to carry the inventory, or waste shelf space, on colors that weren’t selling for a product, that no matter how superior in design, wasn’t selling that well either.) 

Apple, at the time, was invested heavily in marketing and brand building efforts that focused on the 5 “flavors” of Macs: Strawberry, Tangerine, Lime, Grape and Blueberry.  The two companies took an all or nothing approach to the negotiation.  It ended up being nothing.  April 1999, Best Buy removed Apple computers from its shelves.   

Now 8 years later, in demonstration of Apple’s increasing clout, and testament to Apple’s iPod and iTunes generated relevance and resurgence (and the success of Apple’s 170 retail stores),  Best Buy is again making room on its shelves for the full Apple Computer product line.

Best Buy said Wednesday that it will create store displays and carry the full Apple line-up (iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and Macbooks) in at least 200 of its stores (Best Buy plans to have about 850-900 stores by year end).  This expansion apparently follows a small test run last year, and could be expanded to the rest of Best Buys stores later this year

The announcement is a significant feather in Apple’s cap.  Best Buy is the nation’s largest electronics retailer.  They move an enormous volume of inventory: Best Buy’s 4th quarter revenue, which was also reported Wednesday, was up 29% to $12.9b ($11.08b in the US).  Consumer Electronics (which include the iPod product family and its associated accessories) accounted for 46% of Q4 revenue.  Home Office products (which include computers and peripherals) accounted for 27%, or almost $3.5b.

With Best Buy as an added sales-channel, alongside the growing popularity of the newest Intel powered Macs (not to mention the strength of the Apple brand thanks to the iPod), Apple may see a nice revenue boost from sales of computer products over the next year.

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