Best Buy, Worst Attitude (4/19/99)

So much for an almost-timely happy-ending resolution to the whole Best Buy-Apple fracas... Sounds like the peace talks have broken down and things are at a standstill. The history of the relationship between these two is rocky, to say the least; remember, Best Buy was the first national retail chain to be stripped of its Apple-authorized reseller status back during the Great Purge of the Incompetent. Strangely enough, they were also the first to come back on board when the iMac was making little cartoon dollar signs pop up in retailers' eyes, but it wasn't exactly a triumphant return. Clueless salespeople, poor displays, uncompelling deals, and pig-headed management all conspired together to do the impossible: they actually made the iMac difficult to sell. (Someone call Mr. Ripley...)

The last nonsense we'd heard was that back in January Best Buy was refusing to carry the fruit-flavored iMacs because they were opposed to stocking so many different colors; consequently, as far as we can tell, the only iMacs ever to grace the Best Buy warehouses have been Bondi Blue. We thought all that rigamarole got ironed out and fruit-flavored models were due in the stores shortly, but according to an Associated Press article, it just wasn't meant to be; Best Buy is still saying "no deal" and refusing to stock the new 333 MHz models. "We're very meticulous about our inventory," says Best Buy spokeswoman Joy Harris, but "there's no dispute" (!) and the two companies are "still in negotiations." Oh, brother...

The truly sad thing is, iMacs really do practically sell themselves-- Best Buy is the only chain on the planet that could actually be having a tough time moving the year's hottest computer. That said, they really don't have to do much to turn themselves into lean, mean selling machines... in fact, we can pretty much narrow the list of necessary actions down to two. First of all, it's tough to sell iMacs when you don't actually stock them. Ditch this silly paranoia about not being able to sell all five colors, bite the bullet, jump in, and make it work. CompUSA seemed to do okay when it came to selling every flavor, and it's even easier now that Apple's providing iMacs in eight-packs instead of five-packs-- given that Blueberry is so much more popular than the other flavors, resellers now get four times as many blue jobbies as every other color. C'mon, guys, you're not selling any iMacs in any flavor because of this irrational stubbornness. Secondly, ditch those salespeople that are not just Mac-ignorant, but also Mac-bigoted. We've heard far too many stories of people walking into a Best Buy asking to buy an iMac only to be ridiculed and then steered towards the Wintels. Not exactly a great way to sell iMacs, hmmm? But it's not too late. If Best Buy starts acting just a little like they actually want to sell iMacs instead of having them magically turn into money, well, we really think they can do it. We just don't understand the 'tude, is all.

SceneLink (1474)
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The above scene was taken from the 4/19/99 episode:

April 19, 1999: QuickTime 4 is here-- sort of-- and it's pretty cool, rough edges and all. Meanwhile, Best Buy continues its stubborn refusal to stock iMacs if they have to stock all five flavors, and Apple gets slapped with a $35 million charge, payable to the Beatles' Apple Corps, for the use of the Apple trademark...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 1473: Beta or Not... (4/19/99)   ...Here we come. It was a four-press-release day for Apple, as they stormed NAB with 1) Final Cut Pro, a new $999 video editing application that aims higher than Premiere; 2) the QuickTime 4 public beta, which is now available for download; 3) the new open-source QuickTime Streaming Server; and 4) a revamped Public Source License, which addresses concerns some members of the Open Source community had with Apple's original document...

  • 1475: And Your Bird Can Sing (4/19/99)   You can't win 'em all, and neither can Apple. A California state appeals court ruled last week that in the astoundingly long dispute between Apple Computer and Apple Corps (the company founded by the Beatles to distribute their music-- does anyone else remember the halved green apples on the labels of many of John Lennon's records?...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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