Dept. of worst practices: Has Apple cut off Best Buy for withholding iPad 2s?

Apr 8, 2011
Finance

Is Apple boycotting Best Buy because of an iPad 2 snafu? Devin Coldewey reports in CrunchGear about an alleged misunderstanding between the big-box electronics chain and Apple (AAPL) over the iPad 2, which was introduced a month ago and is now in short supply. “Apparently, Best Buy was holding off on selling the iPad 2s […]

Is Apple boycotting Best Buy because of an iPad 2 snafu?

Devin Coldewey reports in CrunchGear about an alleged misunderstanding between the big-box electronics chain and Apple (AAPL) over the iPad 2, which was introduced a month ago and is now in short supply.

“Apparently, Best Buy was holding off on selling the iPad 2s it had in stock, telling customers there weren’t any when in fact they had just reached their quota of sales for the day,” he said a Best Buy employee had informed him.

Supposedly the discipline came from the top, Tim Cook, who is running the show while CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs is on medical leave.

Would a Best Buy (BBY) employee really know the inner thinking of a high-level Apple exec? Would Apple really punish Best Buy like that?

The blogosphere is willing to believe the worst.

Coldewey said the rumor was likely to be true. And that Best Buy was playing with fire: “I just don’t get why you would mess with Apple. Their retail rollouts are very carefully planned for maximum splash effect, and selling them by the million on day one is a big part of that. Did Best Buy really think it was wise to tell customers to come back later?”

One source is good enough for bloggers. Journos need two.

And Chris Rawson apparently provides that at TUAW. Rawson has a tipster who said that Apple has “ordered a freeze on sales of the iPad 2 through Best Buy.” The tipster “claims that until further notice, the mammoth electronics retailer has had all stock except demo units pulled. We didn’t put much credence in this rumor until CrunchGear reported the same thing after being tipped by a supposed Best Buy employee.”

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Could the bloggers have been called by the same tipster? Maybe another tipster can let us know. Rawson said this all is a big “rumory rumor.” I like that.

Kat Hannaford at Gizmodo said: “Apple loves those big-sales stories, where they can announce they sold X million units over the first weekend. But if one of their biggest retail partners, Best Buy, withheld iPad 2s as they’d already reached their internal sales quota for that day, how would Apple react?

“My guess is not very well. That tallies with what CrunchGear heard from a Best Buy employee, who claims that Apple’s COO Tim Cook has been handling the knuckle-rapping himself—and dealt the chain a devastating blow: no more iPad 2s for them.”

Hannaford said a Best Buy blunder wouldn’t make much a difference anyway in the face of an iPad 2 shortage.

I could see where Apple would want to make sure things ran the way they wanted. But I am skeptical that would go to these extremes, costing them sales. Wouldn’t Apple just make a courtesy call and put Best Buy on notice rather than delivering a nuclear strike?

Money talks after all.

Is there a back story with more tension between Best Buy and Apple over a Best Buy ad mocking iPad 2?

Chris Davies at Slashgear reported: “Best Buy didn’t call out the iPad by name in their ASUS Eee Pad Transformer promotion earlier this week, but the intended identity of their ‘generic’ comparison tablet wasn’t exactly well hidden. An iPad-style slate duct taped to a keyboard, the retailer was pushing ASUS’ battery-blessed keyboard dock for the Transformer. Now, though, it seems someone at Best Buy has lost their nerve, since the promo has been pulled.”

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