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Best Buy Widens Apple Mac Test

10/23/2006 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Best Buy will expand a test of Apple's Macintosh computers to over 50 of its stores across the county.

The retailer, which dropped the line eight years ago, began selling Mac desktops, notebooks, software and accessories last spring in a seven-store pilot program. The products are sold by Apple-trained Best Buy blue shirts and are merchandised within a dedicated area of the stores' computer departments.

The expansion was announced by Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer and chief operating officer Tim Cook during a conference call this week following the release of the company's fourth quarter financial results. (See for coverage of Apple's bullish fiscal fourth quarter performance.)

The executives said that Apple will continue to evaluate the program with Best Buy before taking it to the next level and revealed that the vendor had “just started a small pilot with Circuit City.”

Best Buy currently carries Apple's iPod line, which will now compete directly with the chain's SanDisk Sansa e200 series MP3 players, which have been modified to integrate with Best Buy's just-launched digital music download store.

Analysts estimate that a national rollout of Mac departments by Best Buy could generate upwards of $400 million in added sales.

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