Apple and Circuit City team up for new Mac pilot program; Apple may pull out of CompUSA

“It didn’t work five years ago, but a rejuvenated image and fast-approaching holiday shopping season have returned Apple Computer to Circuit City, where this month it will again try its hand at selling Macs,” Kasper Jade reports for AppleInsider.

“Starting next week, a handful of Circuit City stores in the eastern U.S. will feature a selection of Macs including MacBooks, Mac minis, MacBook Pros and iMacs, AppleInsider has learned. The initiative is part of a new pilot program, which if successful, Circuit City hopes to expand to many of its retail stores, people close to the electronics retailer have said,” Jade reports.

“Last week, select Circuit City employees were sent to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. where they were paired with Apple Solution Consultants (ASCs) for a week-long training expedition. The goal of the program was train Circuit City reps to effectively market the Mac and its strong-points, rather than lure prospective buyers towards their own familiarities in the Windows PC isle,” Jade reports.

“In July of 2000, the two companies announced they were teaming to offer Apple’s iMac, iBook and AirPort products throughout Circuit City’s then 570 retail stores. But with Mac maker cutting the ribbon on 27 of its own retail stores the following year, the two companies mutually decided it would be best to go their separate ways,” Jade reports. “Things could play out differently this time around, say insiders. With its brand now booming and the first signs of Mac market share gains peering through the clouds, Apple is reportedly considering a move that would pull ASCs from CompUSA boutiques — a deteriorating model — and reassign them to trendy Circuit City posts. Insiders say the Mac maker’s relationship with CompUSA has been waning with each new Apple retail store it launches.”

Jade reports, “Earlier this year, Apple began testing a similar pilot at select west coast Best Buy locations. Like Circuit City, Best Buy has indicated that it is prepared to scale the pilot program ‘rapidly’ if results prove strong. During a conference call in July, Apple said was ‘evaluating results’ of the program but had nothing new to announce at that time.”

More in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “mango” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
You want back into the Mac market? Apologize to Mac users first – September 04, 2006
Best Buy test-selling Macs using Apple-trained Best Buy employees – June 21, 2006
Analyst: Best Buy may ‘rapidly’ expand Mac pilot program – June 05, 2006
Best Buy now selling Apple MacBook Pro, MacBook, and iMac models – May 31, 2006

31 Comments

  1. I’ve shopped for Mac products at CompUSA. Sold my wife on her first Mac (G4 iMac) there – bought on-line. I knew more about Macs than their one in-house “Mac expert”.

    Now I go to either an Apple Store or MicroCenter. We all know – personal experience or word-of-mouth – the quality of service at the Apple Stores is exceptional. MicroCenter doesn’t quite reach that level, but they can also sell me any of half a dozen Mac-specific mags, several types of thumb drives, a LinkSys router, an Ethernet hard drive, and a thousand other things you don’t see in an Apple Store. If you lack an Apple Store nearby, MicroCenter should be an acceptable alternative.

    Apple isn’t making a product aimed at the CompUSA, or BestBuy, or CostCo market. They don’t make a cheap computer. “Cheap” … that’s a slam. Yes, it means “inexpensive”, but it also means ‘not worth even that little’.

  2. “Always Right” – We have Congel to thank for CompUSA leaving. The rent was just too high – especially being stuck in the basement. Congel refused to lease the location where the old Ames store was to CompUSA – so they decided to pull out. One of 15 stores nation wide that is closing – and only one of two on the East Coast (of the US). Rumor has it that in their agreement with Congel, CompUSA couldn’t build another store in the Syracuse market for at least five years – even if they wanted too. Damn shame. CompUSA’s Apple section had many more products than our wonderful mini Apple store. I always thought the two stores complimented one another. With CompUSA and ATS both closing their doors, all the Syracuse area has left is the mini Apple store. (Guess it’s good Apple opened up a full size store in Rochester – or so I’ve read.)

    Jobs? Steel? No I see a pile of rust.

    MacBill – not true. The other day I spoke to a sales clerk at our local Circuit City and she said she has used nothing but Macs since the 80’s. She agreed that Circuit City should carry Mac compatible software (and ideally Macs).

    To each his / her own. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Circuit City. They’ve bent the rules on returning items, have matched the price of clearance items at other stores, etc. They are great for accessories. The store I can not stand is Best Buy. Use to shop there when they first opened. Had nothing but problems with their items – returned everything I had bought. Got into a shouting match with the sales manager over my returns. Since then never have purchased anything from them again. Been told the store where I had all the problems (Bailley’s Crossroads) has since been shut down.

    Peace.

  3. Places like Circuit City and Best Buy are about increasing the number of outlets for Macs. One of the reasons for iPods being successful is that every electronic boutique sells them. 46000 outlets for iPods I believe.

    For Macs to sell to every kind of customer, Apple needs to place the machines in many different venues. Best Buy / Circuit City are good examples. Fry’s sells them here on the West Coast.

    I would imagine the new 17 inch $999 iMac would fly off the shelves in those stores.

    As Macs get more popular and trendy and the sales people get more comfortable selling them then Apple will really be able to push a lot of units through those channels.

    Remember it took a few years for the iPods to take off and most of that success was through third party retailers. You’re not going to get the same level of service at Circuit City. Last year we went there to look at some HDTVs. The sales guys couldn’t be bothered to answer my questions and told me to use the computer in the store to go online for the answers. The service sucks there for everything but that’s the kind of store it is. However they still get a lot of customers that could buy Macs.

    Imagine if Apple could sell an average of 4M Macs each quarter. Boy my stock will be very healthy then.

  4. Ron – that’s hilarious… how true…

    I’ve had a good experience – twice – with Circuit City…

    I bought a 190lb TV set there – that broke the first week home.

    Both visits – aside from selling me a tv 190lb TV – were nice.

    It was getting there and back which was the real pain!

    Yes – aside from the Apple store – selling Macs will fail in a retail ouitlet.

    cb

  5. need to comment on sales people targeted in this thread. first, they are trying to make a living. those that are overwhelmingly successful are the ones that you and i have had positive experiences. if you constantly have bad experiences, maybe it is your approach. if you don’t get what you need or are being treated poorly, ask to see a more experienced sales perseon or manager. as for knowing more about a mac than the sales perseon, how many of you have had that happen at an apple store?

    apple is trying to expand its channels to increase volume and exposure. it is tied in with the ads. if you spend $10m in advertising and have no local place for curious people to see the product, you have wasted some of your money. these stores have much more foot traffic than most apple stores. unless you become an external vendor and put ibn your own employees, you have to deal with what these stores have.

    i live 100 miles from the nearest apple store. going there is a road trip for me. would love to see macs in best buy and circuit city. they are the best channel partners apple can find today. compusa is in the dumper.

    had a very pleasnat experience just yesterday when i went to best buy to get a sony a100 dslr. the sales person was new and immediately went to get help to answer my questions about the differences between the nikon d80, rebel xti and the a100. the 3 of us learned together as we went though the features for 30 minutes. unfortunately they did not have the 70-300 zoom i wanted to get at the same time. i thanked then for their time and kind attention. went across the street to circuit city and found the a100 kit plus the long zoom. when i added a 4gb cf card, the very knowledgable salesperson suggested that i saved her from having to upsell the cf card and that offering a 10% discount for accessories (the zoom and cf card) was something she could have offered in the upsell. we called a manager to get the ok and i walked out with over $100 in savings (the kit was $50 less than best buy). i’m sure this person could sell macs, as could the people who helped me at best buy.

    suspect that most of our bad experiences in the computer section of best buy (i have them, too) is related to the know-it-all superiority complex of the geeks they hire. i’m glad they moved the ipods out of the computer section long ago. hated to see my purchases help their metrics.

    finally, best buy and costco, and even walmart, are not about cheap. they are about value. apple is about value. they will sell well there. have you ever noticed the lexi outnumber the toyotas at costco parking lot?

  6. Yes, the CompUSA store in Syracuse has an excellent, well-stocked Apple boutique (better than the Apple Mini store upstairs, IMHO) and the manager there keeps it well organized and is knowledgeable. It would be sad to see it go.

  7. It IS going.
    And, there are some screaming deals, too.

    Got a Targus laptop holder w/cooling fans (USB powered) for my PB (which, if actually set directly on my lap, is so hot that when I remove it, I could fry eggs w/my balls).

    Appr. 60% off, including rebate.

  8. The CompUSA nearest me has all the Mac stuff in the corner farthest from the entrance. BUT… They now a have a huge, can’t-miss-it banner advertising the presence of the Apple section. They also carry a decent variety of Mac-compatible accessories and Mac software. The displays are clean with posters and stands from Apple pushing the product. If Apple is going to ditch CompUSA, they’d better make certain BB & CC will provide an experience just as good.

  9. It would be nice to have a retailer in my area (NW Indiana) that has Macs. I think Guitar Center carries Macs, but I haven’t checked to see if they have them in the store (maybe they do). Other then that, nobody sells Macs in a retail store in Northwest Indiana. Nobody, not even a local place sells apple products other then a ipod. Apple is missing out on an area with over 400,000 people. Circuit City and Best Buy may suck but it would be better then what we have today which is nothing! There are other underserved areas in and out of the US that Apple is not present in any number.

  10. Usually Right – Agreed. My wife and I both purchased MacBooks when they were 10% off. Not much, but a better discount than is offered from work (5%). We also bought the CompUSA portable laptop holder with fans and a USB hub. They work great – my only critism is the poor placement of the on/off switch and the USB hub (both underneath the MacBook rather than on the side). Also picked up a bunch of new XBox games from 5 – 10 dollars.

    One word of caution – not everything is a deal. The harddrives are 20% off but if you go online, you’ll find you can order the same drives (from a reputable dealer) for often a lower price. My wife and I always hop online using one of their computers to see if we are really getting a deal. I generally find that at the current discount (20% – 40%) that the prices are usually in line with the average “online” prices.

    Good luck.

    Peace.

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