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Best Buy’s Tablet Looking For A Few Likes

If Best Buy’s Facebook account can be believed, the retailer will enter the tablet PC market on or around Nov. 11.

The announcement itself and the manner it was delivered are both new territory for Best Buy.

The company placed an image and a few details about its upcoming Insignia-branded Flex tablet last week on its Facebook page and today rumors abound on the web that its price will be about $250.

The tablet will run Android 4.0, have a 9.7-inch display, a 1GHz processor and about 10 hours of battery life.

Entering a hyper-competitive category that is dominated by one of the chain’s own vendors should make for an interesting meeting the next time a Best Buy buyer heads out to Cupertino.

Will Apple strike back in some fashion or simply brush off Best Buy’s attempt?

While Apple can still laugh at an upstart competitor, I wonder if Samsung, Toshiba, Lenovo and the other guys trying to compete in the Android universe will be happy if the Flex sells for $250.

Steve Baker, VP of analysis for The NPD Group, does not see Best Buy’s move as particularly threatening.

“I doubt Apple or any other brand will be peeved about it. I don’t think it is any different than Insignia TVs or MP3 players. They are looking for some exclusive products and brands and to hit a price point. Their own branded tablet certainly fits into that philosophy,” he said.

I do agree with Steve, but to play devil’s advocate… In a consumer world where people see the tablet category as the iPad, and then all the other models that are not the iPad, the Flex could happily find itself seen as lower-priced equal to all the other tablets on the market. Just saying.

Releasing the Flex news on Facebook is also an interesting twist. It would seem Best Buy is taking a leaf from Apple’s playbook. Whereas Apple enjoys dropping hints in its press invitations, such as its recent “We’ve got a little more to show you” bit that was sent out to the press the other day. The blogosphere quickly latched onto the word “little” and extrapolated that a smaller iPad would be announced, a point on which I agree.

However, Best Buy has ignored the press entirely and did not even issue a release, instead taking its message directly to the consumer.

Best Buy’s Facebook page has 6.3 million likes, and the word certainly got around fast enough so perhaps the chain is onto something. It created a ton of buzz with a minimal amount of effort so the move has to be considered a feather in the company’s cap.