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.