Best Buy to sell the Mac Mini?


(Hat tip: MacNN)

Chalk this one up to still being a rumor, but one I think is in line with Apple’s “iPod halo” marketing strategy. According to a report released by Merril Lynch, Best Buy may begin selling Macs again. 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, neither Best Buy nor Apple would confirm such a move to Merril Lynch. Merril 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, Merill 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 setups, such as those for Canon printers, Sony digital video cameras, and Linksys networks.

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