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Merrill: Best Buy may sell Mac Mini at select stores

updated 07:45 am EST, Fri January 28, 2005

Best Buy may sell Mac Mini

Best Buy may begin selling Macs again, which in turn could accelerate the iPod halo affect, according to a report released by Merrill Lynch. The analyst firm said that the consumer electronic retailer could begin to sell Macs--specifically the Mac mini-again by the end of February, based on information relayed by a retail manager and indications on Best Buy's Website that the Mac mini would be available soon at retail stores; however, the firm said that neither Best Buy nor Apple would confirm such a move. The firm said that while Apple and Best Buy had previously decided not move forward following a pilot program in 48 different US stores, the new lower $500 point of the Mac mini would make the program more successful the second time around.

"Half the 48 stores had Apple-badged employees, which we think resulted in higher sales and made clear that Apple-savvy sales people would be a requirement. We venture that the additional cost of dedicated sales people combined with Apple's lower volume of $1,300+ computers made a deal unworkable at that time."

In a report to clients, Merrill analyst Steven Milunovich said that the introduction of the new Mac Mini could be the catalyst for a limited roll out to select Best Buy stores. "Because showing how the Mac Mini connects to peripherals is so important, either Apple-badged or knowledgeable Best Buy reps (more likely) must be involved. The analyst said that Best Buy currently allows other companies' sales representatives to sell their own company's products and that its retail stores already feature small vendor-specific, such as those for Canon printers, Sony digital video cameras, and Linksys networks.

The Apple-Best Buy partnership could further accelerate the halo effect of the iPod by providing yet another outlet for Apple to reach out to the larger consumer market, according to Milunovich. Merrill reiterated a "Buy" rating on Apple with a price target of $85 per share.

by MacNN Staff




  1. futuremac

    Joined: Dec 1969


    i hope this works out

    the price point (less than an ipod photo) should help. and having apple-badged employees should as well.

  1. medmuse

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Won't work. Target is already pulling the mini because its' stores are last in line for distribution and you would expect the price point to have a major effect at their stores. Why would BB be any different in sales? As far as "Apple badged employees" goes, my experience is that they are idiots that pass a simple Q&A about Apple: "What is Apple?--It is a computer"; "Does it run XP?--No, it runs some weird Apple thing"; "Are parts interchangeable? Software?--No, nothing is normal, everything has to be special Apple stuff."

  1. betasp

    Joined: Dec 1969


    My Thoguhts

    I would think you do nothing as far as the "in store marketing." Just give them shelf life beside the ipods. That's it. You could hook one up is a kiosk type thing (15" LCD and a couple of speakers) just to let people explore on their own.

  1. eddd

    Joined: Dec 1969


    One thing

    They'd better give these machines 512MB of RAM. or else they'll do more damage than good to Apple's image. All the reviews I've read so far (including the excellent Anandtech review) are unanimous in stating that the mini needs 512 just to function acceptably.

  1. cmoney

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I thought Target removed them only because they couldn't estimate when they'd receive them for shipment. IE, it was a temporary situation to be remedied when the mini was shipping in quantity.

    Anyway, a nice side benefit is that Best Buy and Target have better retail promotions than the Apple store. So you can use things like Best Buy's frequent buyer card to collect coupons to pay for the mini or 10% off coupons at Target. And people are more likely to get Target and Best Buy gift cards as gifts. I hope it works just so I can trade my credit card points for Best Buy cards and get the mini for free!

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: One thing

    512MB is only needed if you push your machine past the simple world of mail and browsing. People clamor for more RAM because they think they should have more RAM, so everyone should have more RAM. (Also, with only 256, it leaves a good marketing ploy from Best Buy to offer 512 for a discount, or free, that'll sell boxes). Of course there's still people who track their RAM usage in OS X, like OS X uses RAM the same way as OS 9 did (it doesn't), and then scream because 'free' RAM isn't as high as it should be (because the OS uses a lot of RAM for caching while its not needed for other things).

    And no one seems to be complaining here that the PCs that are sold tend to start out at 256!

    Oh, and the review on MacsOnly did not state 512 was a must. So there's one, at least.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Target and "best" buy

    To the best of my knowledge, Target never announced they were putting minis in their stores. They were only showing on their web site. Second, there's no way this Best Buy thing would work, and I would hope Apple doesn't try it. Why? Because, I don't know, maybe its the fact it didn't work the last time they tried it. Or the time before that. Or the time before that. Nor did it work the 642 times they seemed to try it with Circuit City. Or Sears. Or Home Depot. Or JoAnn's Fabrics. Or Victoria's Secret. Or CompUSA (prior to the 'stores within a store', not that they're much better now, but there's less ladders to maneuver around).

    Apple's not going to succeed in the retail stores unless they've got the personnel that can sell the difference between Macs and Windows. And even then they have to battle against the sales associates who'll make more kick-back money for selling PCs then Macs.

    But Best Buy does have that cool Geek Squad! Because we all know the only ones who can work on computers are guys with glasses with black frames, white shirts, and pocket protectors (no stereotypes here!)

  1. mbryda

    Joined: Dec 1969



    "All the reviews I've read so far (including the excellent Anandtech review) are unanimous in stating that the mini needs 512 just to function acceptably."

    I read the Anandtech article and what he's forgetting is that most budget PC's also come with 256MB of shared RAM too. And those perform ABYSMALLY when multitasking too. Been there, done that.

    Also, him reccomending or comparing a Dell is not a good idea. Dell builds crapboxen, not quality computers.....

  1. marzetta7

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Might Just Work

    I think this just might work as the price point for these things (mini's) are a lot more doable for everyday Best Buy shoppers looking for a decent computer. Now...if only Best Buy can actually place the Mac Minis in a location that can be seen by customers rather than tuck them under a discreet glass drawer as I've seen them do with the iPods.

  1. ScottEllsworth

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Worth a shot

    I suspect it has a chance of working. The people at BB do not know diddly about computers, as a rule, so their lack of mac knowledge will probably not hurt more than their lack of xp knowledge.

    Target dropped out because they could not get confirmed ship dates. This is not unusual for a new box, as demand and supply have not been well matched. Since I waited for five weeks for a new Dell last year, this is typical for the industry.

    As far as needing more RAM - I have tried OS X on a powerbook with 256, and it is quite usable for mail and safari.


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