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Apple Stores Dock iPod-Speaker Space

5/23/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK – Apple Stores will significantly scale
back their selection of iPod-docking speaker systems
to make room for more Apple products, such
as iPads, and for more hand-on technical support
for consumers.

Companies that supply docking speakers to Apple
said the company isn’t planning to scale back its
online selection of iPod speaker systems, one of the
vendors said.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment
on this story.

The change at Apple’s brick-and-mortar stores
could drive more consumers who want iPod speakers
to other CE retailers, but the change will hit the bottom
line of audio suppliers who sell into Apple’s physical
stores, which numbered 238 at the end of 2010.

The Apple stores have already begun to scale
back, one supplier said. Another supplier said the
shift will begin in earnest in the fall.

With the change, Apple will eliminate a section
of its stores dedicated to speaker solutions and will
mix iPod speakers with other products on display,
one supplier said. Apple intends to take the in-store
speaker selection down to four to five SKUs, the
supplier added.

Many stores have already scaled back their selection,
perhaps to about 20 SKUs, said a supplier that doesn’t supply Apple Stores but visits them regularly.

Some or all of the deleted SKUs will be replaced with
AirPlay-enabled speaker systems, the docking-speaker
suppliers said. One of the suppliers was informed by
Apple that stores will display only one docking-speaker
product per supplier “to help put more focus on a handful
of quality brands.”

The intent is to “help them create a more consistent
core product offering from store to store,” he said.
“There will also be a specific focus amongst that core
group of products on AirPlay.”

The supplier hasn’t heard how many products or manufacturers
will be displayed in the stores.

Apple, which didn’t respond to a request for comment,
is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its first
Apple-branded retail stores in the coming week. Apple
was planning unspecified in-store initiatives last week to
celebrate the anniversary, this past weekend, according
to a variety of media reports.

Online Apple sells 41 iPod speaker systems and 14
other types of speakers, including Bluetooth wireless
speakers and computer speakers. iPod-speaker brands
available in Apple’s online store include Altec Lansing,
Audyssey, Bang & Olufsen, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins,
Creative Labs, Edifier, Eton, iHome, iLive, JBL, Klipsch,
Logitech, Monster, Philips and Philippe Starck.