created over 2 years ago | Tagged:
Shoppers this Christmas can expect to see more smartphones, electronic readers and touch-screen computers in the most prominent store displays, underscoring a dramatic shift to powerful portable devices that is fast changing the face of consumer electronics retailing.
The new priorities are plainly evident in the changing strategy of Best Buy Co., the nation's largest electronics retailer by revenue, which is now morphing into a mobile gadget specialist after decades of promoting the latest in big-screen televisions, desktop computers and high-fidelity stereos.
Best Buy, which reported a 61% jump in second quarter profit Tuesday despite flat sales at stores open at least 14 months, said it will showcase devices such as Apple Inc.'s iPad tablet computer and Amazon.com Inc's Kindle e-reader this holiday season. It also plans to turn the middle of its stores into a playground for motion-sensing videogame accessories from Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp.
The Richfield, Minn., retailer already has radically pared back its formerly expansive selections of movie and music discs as consumers gravitate to digital entertainment purchases. What remains will be further reduced to make way for the electronic fashions of the moment, it said. On Tuesday, Best Buy said it will expand iPad distribution to all of its 1,093 U.S. stores Sept. 26.
"People are willing to disproportionately spend for these devices because they are becoming so important to their lives," Best Buy Chief Executive Brian Dunn said in an interview. "We are really positioning the company to be the place where people can come and see the best of the connected world."
Mr. Dunn also said internal estimates showed that the iPad had cannibalized sales from laptop PCs by as much as 50%.
"It's a very different environment now," said Stephen Baker, the chief electronics analyst for market researcher NPD Group Inc. "The real cool stuff now will be the tablets, e-readers and probably the higher-end digital cameras."