Best Buy Mini-Apple Stores Are a Step in Right Direction



With all the hubbub surrounding the release of the iPhone (can you believe it’s been more than a month already?), Apple’s introduction of miniature Apple Stores inside of Best Buys kind of flew under the radar. Which is kind of odd, because the Best Buy mini-stores represent Apple’s resurgence more than almost anything else that’s happened in Steve Jobs’s tenure.

After all, in the 1990s, Best Buy did such a terrible job selling Macs that Apple pulled is products out of the entire chain, focusing on CompUSA and Internet sales. Now, almost 10 years later, Apple returns on its own terms.

I checked out the Apple mini-store in the Best Buy in Santa Rosa, California on Saturday night, where I took a couple of photos. It’s an interesting set-up, all-in-all. Very consumer-focused, which makes sense, but I was surprised that Apple isn’t selling any Mac Pros at Best Buy at all. It’s MacBooks (and Pros), iMacs, and nothing else. The entire display centers on computers — not on iPods, let alone iPhones, which aren’t stocked at Best Buy at all. A very interesting positioning all around — given that it’s the iPod and its accessories that brought Apple back into most retail stores.

Macs star, and it’s about time. Click through the jump for another image from the store.


  • Johan

    Almost identical to the displays I’ve seen in the local Fry’s since forever. Fry’s does sell iPods though.

  • stuart

    A few Tesco stores here in the UK have their own mini apple stores too. Set out in a very similar way to the photos above they have one of each of the products (macbook, macbook pro, imac, mac mini, ipods) all on display to ready to play with. its quite small, but a great way to get the Apple brand in a few more places!

  • mark

    in germany we have the same apple store-in-stores at some MediaMarkt and Saturn malls, they have the exact same dark brown/black tables and tables. i even recognize the same Movies-presentation seen on the macbooks(pro).

  • Dylan

    Comet electrical stores here in the UK also ahve a very similar set up. Interestingly the Cribbs Causeway (Bristol) superstore has this display located at the front of the store as you walk in. Straight away you see this long black monolith with the Apple logo shining with a range of Apple computers. The iPods are located in the middle of the store with all the other MP3 players!

  • Ian

    The big difference in my local Best Buy is that the Black Apple wall is on the long side of the display bench and it faces the Xbox and PS3 displays. So it really stands out and is in a high traffic area. I usally see people playing with the iMacs too (the photos here look like they were taken after hours).

    This Best Buy has always had a huge iPod display and zillions of accessories but is located with all the other players. It is always amazing to see people playing with the Nano while the other players sit mostly idle.

  • david

    If the Mac Mini and Apple TV are left out, then that’s further evidence that these products are being marginalized.

    Here in France, FNAC stores have had something similar for quite some time now, with the addition of the Mac Mini (but no Pro).

  • imajoebob

    I don’t see this lasting. Best Buy has a horrible reputation for poor customer service and deceptive pricing practices (…. I don’t see how this fits Apple’s model of customer satisfaction. My local Best Buy has done a major expansion, so it’s (finally) clean and well-stocked, but I don’t see that lasting. The only thing I can figure is that Apple sees this as a way to showcase their products in direct comparison to the HP and eMachines. People who come in to see the computers and then go home to order from Dell may now order from Apple instead.

    As for me, I’m lucky enough to have an Apple Store directly across the street from Best Buy, so I can avoid the place altogether. Though I may go in just to see if they have a mini store in this one. I’ll let you know if this model works in their situation.

    And Apple Stores in Tesco?!! That one boggles the mind. I used to frequent what I thought was a large store in Southwark (London), and they sold some electronics, even a few el cheapo computers. But I’m at a loss figuring out how to set up Apple there. Maybe they skip London altogether with the Haymarket store.

    “Honey I’m running to the market. What do we need?”
    ” Let’s see… some red cheddar, brown sauce, boots and laces for the kids, and milk. Oh, and grab a MacBook Pro while you’re there.”

  • phoenix

    As much as I don’t particularly care for Best Buy, I don’t think their customer service record is any worse than Circuit City or Fry’s or any of the other big box electronics stores, frankly, is it?

    Anyway – I like the fact that this is happening, to tell you the truth. The exposure of the Macintosh brand is a good thing, and you’d be surprised how many people go into an electronics store without an inkling of what they want to buy and what they need and let a sales person sell them on whatever they wind up getting. Now hopefully Apple can be part of that horrible game. :p

  • Andy

    Mini-Apple Stores are the only stores we have in Australia as soon as you get out of Sydney and Melbourne. They are in major department stores and the like.

    We do have a few 3rd Party “Apple Stores” but these lack in not only getting the latest products in quickly (as frequently they’re distributed from the real Apple Stores) but in customer service. There are no Genius Bars here in Perth on the West Coast, something we could really do with.

    Even a little store would be such a huge jump in the whole Apple user experience for people who use their products… Having to spend the time booking your computer in, waiting days and paying for something so simple (even if its a small problem) is such a contradiction to the Apple Ideology…

  • Danielito PantalonDelFuego

    its about damn time! that + their extended warranty makes me a lifetime customer!

  • Danielito PantalonDelFuego

    its about damn time! that + their extended warranty makes me a lifetime customer!

  • Pete Mortensen

    On the point of Tesco, it’s interesting to note that they’re about to enter the U.S. market in a big way. Word in the design strategy community is that they’ve put together a very smart, very suited-to-the-American-mindset customization of their stores. Word has it they’re going directly after Target. It will be interesting to see if they incorporate an Apple Store in the process…

  • aventw2

    I’d swear that photo was taken at the Best buy I visited last week in Vancouver BC Canada.

    However… the one I visited WAS selling the Pro towers

  • imajoebob

    It’s off the main topic, but last I heard Tesco was trying variations on Express and Metro stores. Their target is more a combo of Paneras quality food and 7-Eleven grocery convenience. They think they have a winner with their high-quality prepared foods and sandwiches. And if you’ve been to them, you’ll probably agree.

    Though I don’t think you’ll see iMacs in a Tesco Express.

  • Glen

    I don’t think I’m that surprised by the lack of Mac Pros. I mean, Best Buy markets itself to the consumer rather than the professional. What does surprise me is that there were any pro models on display at all (the Macbook Pros). Either way, props to Best Buy for realizing they were missing out on a serious chunk of the market.

  • Ben

    Sad that there are no MacMinis. I love my Mini, I’m sorry to see Apple seems to be pushing them off-stage. I had planned to buy another mini when this one starts to feel too slow.

  • Mike

    Tesco is opening up a boatload of upmarket convenience stores here in Southern California. There are called Fresh and Easy. No Macs (Apple stores everywhere here), just lots of ready to eat meals for us kitchen-challenged. From what I have read in the local papers (San Diego) they are rolling these out all over the place, and it sounds as if they will really take off.
    What we really need are more Apple stores though. We only have 3 here at the moment.

  • dorkhero

    I wonder if there is a list published anywhere of which Best Buys have the Apple mini-stores? I also wonder if this means Best Buy will start stocking Mac compatable software?

  • Mike

    With all of the publicity about Best Buy’s new displays, I’ve seen very little about Circuit City discontinuing the sale of Macs. Starting about a year ago the Circuit City in my area had a display similar to the new Best Buy set up. The local Best Buy was selling Macs, but they were on a shelf in back corner. Now the Best Buy has one of these new displays and the Circuit City has dismantled their display and does not sell Macs any longer. And… the Apple product specialist who used to work at Circuit City now has the same role at the local Best Buy.

  • stuart

    The Tesco store I saw the mac shop in was one of the new Home Plus stores – just like a normal Tesco but they dont sell food – its homeware and electronics only. They opened a big Home Plus store in Chelmsford UK at the end of last year and although the Apple store is pretty small, its the only place in the town centre were you can buy an Apple Computer.

  • Macfriend

    I totally disagree. The display at my local Best Buy is horrible, in disarray, and an embarrassment to apple. Keyboards missing keys. Apples lumped in with other computers. Nothing like the clean picture above, which even still is fairly mundane looking for an Apple display.

  • William

    It’s the same thing they’ve had for months, only with a new graphics package. They have no real SOFTWARE to sell, which for me is the worst part. When they have a full aisle of Mac software, THEN I’ll call it a MacStore. Until then, it’s a glorified endcap.

  • clarkbar6

    this is the best looking best buy / apple mini store i have ever seen.

    i frequent the back bay best buy in boston (lots of b’s) which has, i kid you not, poor resolution printouts of apple computers on a shelf. you cant even touch one. its got a picture and a price, no specs.

  • Dr. Mac – Palm Springs

    The aggressive rollout of these min Apple store-ettes to the Coachella Valley-Palm Springs area is long overdue. A bit beyond the fringe of Los Angeles – to be able to buy a Mac in La Quinta and/or Palm Desert will target a very wealthy and upscale (if seasonal) demographic. Can’t come soon enough.