Apple Computer will begin selling both models of the Mac mini and the $99 iPod shuffle at over 780 Best Buy stores in the U.S. sometime in the next 30 days, the electronics retailer has confirmed and highly reliable, third-party sources have corroborated to The Mac Observer. The return of Macintosh computers to Best Buy ends an almost six year hiatus for Apple at the nationis largest electronics retailer.
Confirmation of the decision came early Thursday with the posting on Best Buyis Web site of word that the top-of-the-line, $599, 1.42 gigahertz (GHz) Mac mini would be "coming soon" to retail stores (see Web site screen shot below. Friday, the company updated its Web site to say it will also sell the low-end, $499, 1.25 GHz model as well at its brick-and-mortar locations.
Best Buy has also confirmed online that it will stock at its retail stores the 512 megabyte, $99.99, iPod shuffle, but will not stock the 1 gigabyte model.
Highly reliable sources at a number companies that manufacture third-party add-ons for the Macintosh have confirmed to The Mac Observer that Best Buy will be displaying and stocking the Mac mini at all of its retail stores, and not just a selected few.
Best Buyis online store confirms the company will begin selling Appleis Mac mini through its retail stores soon. Sources have confirmed to TMO that stores will begin stocking and displaying the Mac mini in the next 30 days.
The sources, who asked not to be named, told TMO that discussions with Best Buy and Apple took place during Mac Expo in San Francisco, the week of Jan. 9, to stock and display a number of third-party products along side the Mac mini, including printers, flat-panel displays, scanners, and other accessories.
The sources said the plan was to have the Mac mini and the iPod shuffle along side each other in a kiosk display at all Best Buy retail stores in North America.
The sources said plans were in the offing to have a similar plan at the Canadian electronics retailer, Future Shop, which is owned by Best Buy. Sources said a final agreement had not yet been completed on a similar marketing plan for Future Shop. Future Shop is not advertising the Mac mini on its Web site, but is advertising the 512MB and 1GB iPod shuffle as products its retail stores will stock by February 11.
The return of Macs to Best Buy retail stores comes almost six years after the relationship with Apple ended over the computer makers insistance that the retailer carry all five colors of the all-in-one iMac.
In July of 2003, Cnet reported Best Buy would again start selling selected Macs in a small number of retail stores. A small pilot program did take place, but ended last summer with no commitment from either company to continue it. Best Buy began selling iPods in all its retail stores in September of 2002.
Word of the Best Buy agreement has been expected for weeks. A number of Wall Street analysts questioned Apple about their Mac mini retail strategy in meetings while at Mac Expo earlier this month. Apple refused to discuss the issue, analysts told TMO, but did not outright deny such an arrangemnent was being planned.
An Best Buy spokespersons were not immediately available for comment. An Apple spokesperson did not repeated attempts to obtain comment for this story. An Apple spokeswoman, who promised to get back with TMO for comment today, did not return calls by the end of business Friday.