TV-PGJanuary 26, 1998: Best Buy quietly ducks out of the Mac-selling business, amid whispers of impropriety and scandal. Meanwhile, Big Boy Compaq scores with its indecent proposal to bed Digital to the tune of almost $10 billion, while Apple slims down in preparation for a new tactic in the battle: better machines at lower prices...
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Best Buy Bowing Out (1/26/98)

Remember our recent episode in which Apple was reported to be pulling out of retail chains that couldn't market a Mac if their prefabricated lives depended on it? Well, it seems that the first ineffectual chain has bailed; according to MacInTouch, the yellow and black splendor of Best Buy stores across the country will no longer be sullied by the presence of nonfunctional Macs on the show floor.

Apparently the news was circulated to Best Buy's staff via an internal newsletter, which stated that while the chain would continue to sell Macintosh software, Apple computers are now a no-go. Best Buy's spin is that "Apple marketing conditions" and the "current reseller relationship" have prompted this change, but did Best Buy dump Apple, or vice versa? Regardless, Best Buy is closing out their remaining Apple hardware at clearance prices, so now might be the time to wander down and pick up a bargain.

The Mac community will sorely miss Best Buy's presence in the Mac-selling world. Now we'll have to buy our Macs at retail stores like CompUSA or Microcenter, from mail order houses like MacConnection, MacMall, MacZone, and MacWarehouse, or online via Cyberian Outpost or the Apple Store, or... Er... actually, I guess we won't miss them so much after all, hmmm?

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Sorry, All Sold Out (1/26/98)

Of course, the big news in the computer world today was the acquisition of Digital Equipment Corporation by Compaq. Compaq swallowed DEC whole and the bill came to $9.6 billion, in the largest takeover in computing history. Techweb has the details.

Now, this doesn't directly affect Mac users in any appreciable way, but some of our faithful viewers have been complaining about the recent lack of conspiracy theory content in our show (it's been ten days! Zounds!), so we thought you should consider this: Rumors of a Compaq buyout of Digital have been circulating for several months, but the primary obstacle to the takeover was the legal battle between Digital and then-rival-chipmaker Intel, whom they were suing for patent infringement. Basically, Digital claimed Intel swiped technology from the DEC Alpha chip to use in the new joint Intel/Hewlett-Packard Merced processor.

Intel's response was, of course, to countersue. And the deadlock remained frozen solid by legal bureaucracy, with no end in sight. Until, that is, an impatient and Digital-hungry Compaq met with Intel in a dark, smoke-filled room to hash out a deal. The plan was simple; Intel would front the cash to settle with Digital by buying out its chipmaking plants, thus eliminating the Alpha chip, Intel's only real competitor in the NT world. True, the deal included Intel's agreement to manufacture the Alpha for seven more years-- but that's where the genius comes into play. With the legal dispute resolved, Compaq could finally make its move on Digital, who, after becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Compaq, no longer had any need to require Intel to keep manufacturing Alphas. Intel deep-sixes the Alpha. Compaq gets its buyout. And all's well in the feverish, twisted world of the Conspiracy Theory. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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Lower Costs? Uproar! (1/26/98)

Has Apple gone mad? That's the only feasible conclusion we can make based on the story over at MacOS Rumors that Apple's going to focus tightly on lowering retail costs for its products. Apparently this is some harebrained scheme to grow into previously-untapped markets (like, say, the home) and grow market share, now that they've got the house in order enough to maneuver a little. The reabsorption of Newton and the rumored reabsorption of Claris are symptoms of this convergence into a smaller, leaner, tighter ship that can develop great technologies with lower costs, all in an effort to pass the savings on to the consumer. (That's you, buddy.)

We at AtAT don't mind saying that we're a little uncomfortable with this concept. Whenever we hear murmurs about the possibility of a Mac that your average household can afford, or the prospect of market share climbing instead of falling, we start looking around for other signs of the coming Apocalypse. But at least there's one constant: Steve Jobs himself apparently promises "surprises every ninety days." Well, at least now we can sleep nights.

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