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Anderson’s Outlook: Bullish On CE

One of Brad Anderson’s greatest contributions to the CE business, said president and CEO-elect Brian Dunn, is that “he looked out for the greater good of the CE industry while shepherding Best Buy.”

Anderson proved that point again last month during his next-to-last earnings call as CEO. In an eloquent affirmation of the industry’s strength and vitality, he robustly challenged naysayers who would suggest that CE’s, and Best Buy’s, best days are behind them.

He ended his statement with a gracious nod to Dunn, who succeeds him as chief executive in June.

Excerpts from Anderson’s address follow. — Alan Wolf

Because of the challenging global economy, for the last few months we have heard more about the threats facing our industry over the longer term.

 As I approach my retirement from the role of CEO in June, I’d like to share my view with you of these threats.

Many say we’re a good company, but that it’s like being the best house on a bad street. Let me examine why some may view the consumer electronics industry as a “bad street.”

The first [alleged] threat to the company is that the product cycle we’re in is dead, as evidenced many say, by this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, often called CES. The concern is whether our profits peaked with the digital TV cycle.

 I believe the product cycle threat has never been a true threat. Those who invest in our company because they like DVD or flat panel may have invested wisely, but not for the right reasons.

The macro-trend is multi-product, and it’s not any one big innovation. That’s why we can never prove that we have a “killer app.” It’s not one thing, it’s literally thousands.

I’ve been to almost 30 CES shows, and it seems to me the headline almost every year is, “There’s Nothing New at CES.” I differ. There’s always something new at CES, it’s just hard to see.

My example this year is Windows 7, shown at the Microsoft booth at CES two months ago. Even the hardware companies are consistently saying that this product is much stronger than anything we’ve seen from Microsoft before.

Furthermore, Windows 7 could provide the fuel for thousands more innovations.