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Apple To Enter Best Buy For Third Time, Retailer To Sell iPod

Apple To Enter Best Buy For Third Time, Retailer To Sell iPod

by , 11:30 AM EDT, September 3rd, 2002

Third time's the charm, or so Apple appears to have said to Best Buy. Apple has entered into an agreement to sell its products at Best Buy for a third time. The company will be selling the iPod, its very popular MP3 player at both Best Buy's retail outlets and Web site. Apple used to sell Macs at Best Buy, but pulled out of the retailing giant in January of 1998 because of Best Buy's amazingly poor support for the Mac platform. Best Buy had a particularly bad reputation for its display Macs to be out-of-date, for keeping them in dusty corners, and for the floor machines to often not function at all. In addition, Best Buy employees have long been known for bad-mouthing Macs and steering customers towards Wintel products.

In October, 1998, shortly after Apple introduced the iMac, the company moved back into Best Buy. This yielded similar results as Best Buy was again not able to provide a positive Mac experience for customers. Apple again pulled out of the retailer after Best Buy refused to stock all five "Fruit Flavored" iMacs in April of 1999.

The new agreement has Best Buy providing two Windows models of the iPod, the 10 GB and 20 GB units, and the 10 GB unit for the Mac. The company will sell the entire iPod line for Mac and Windows on its Web site, including the 5 GB model. The units are scheduled to begin appearing on Best Buy shelves on September 15th.

Apple® and Best Buy today announced that iPod will be available at all Best Buy retail locations and on BestBuy.com beginning September 15. With more than 500 retail stores in 47 states throughout the U.S. and 16 million visitors to its online store each month, Best Buy is the nation's leading specialty retailer of consumer electronics.

Now shipping for both Mac® and Windows, iPod is the only portable digital music player with Auto-sync, an innovative feature that automatically downloads an entire digital music library into an iPod and keeps it up-to-date whenever the iPod is plugged in.

Best Buy will offer three iPod configurations in their retail stores -- the 10GB iPod for Windows, the 20GB iPod for Windows and the 10GB iPod for Mac -- as well as the entire line of iPod portable digital music players on their commercial Web site at www.BestBuy.com.

iPod for Mac requires Mac® OS X version 10.1 or Mac OS 9.2, iTunes 2.0.4 and a Macintosh® with built-in FireWire port. iPod for Windows requires a PC with built-in FireWire or a Windows-certified FireWire card and Windows Me, Windows 2000 or Windows XP Home or Professional.

* Some iPod features require a Mac and iTunes 3.

You can find more information on Best Buy at the company's Web site, and more information on the iPod at Apple's Web site.

The Mac Observer Spin:

This could be yet another disaster in the making as Best Buy has proven to be the worst Mac retailer on the planet. With the iPod, the company doesn't face the same hurdles of having to provide sales staff that understands the Mac. The biggest issue with most Best Buy locations, however, has usually been a staff that not only didn't know anything about the Mac, but showed outright hostility to anything Apple-related.

The iPod may change that, as it has been widely heralded by many PC users as the coolest MP3 player available. When it comes to selling to those users, Best Buy is certainly among the best outlets to do so. The stores bring in amazing foot traffic, and many of those customers dabble in the digital hub world. Apple needs to be able to reach Windows users in some way, and the Mac retailers that currently carry the iPod, with the exception of CompUSA, don't see many Windows users come through the door. With that in mind, this could at long last be the right Apple product for a store like Best Buy to sell. If it works, Circuit City would be another potential outlet for the iPod.

This will be an interesting experiment to watch, and we hope it works out. Best Buy could certainly help Apple's bottom line if it can sell the Windows iPod in quantity. That, in and of itself, will also help to broaden Apple's basic appeal to those users.

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