Mac mini comes to Best Buy stores

Apple confirmed Tuesday its budget-priced Mac mini computer is being carried by electronics superstore Best Buy. The Mac mini will be sold at all Best Buy in the U.S., and has been on some store shelves since last weekend.

"Starting at just $499, Mac mini is the most affordable way ever to get started with Mac OS X and Apple's award-winning iLife suite of digital lifestyle applications. We are pleased to offer Mac mini at Best Buy stores nationwide," said Apple in a statement offered to MacCentral.

"We're excited to carry this latest innovation from Apple," said Best Buy spokesman Kevin Cockett. "It adds to our assortment of computers and gives our customers more choice."

Cockett told MacCentral that Mac minis are on the way to all Best Buy stores nationwide, though the vagaries of distribution mean that they may not all show up at once. Some Best Buy stores already had Mac mini models on shelves this past weekend -- the new retail push began at the start of the month.

Apple debuted the Mac mini in January at Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Calif. The tiny computer measures 6.5 inches square and is two inches tall. The Mac mini includes a 1.2GHz G4 processor, 256MB RAM, ATI Radeon 9200 graphics, FireWire, USB 2.0, DVI video connector, 10/100baseT Ethernet, a 56K modem, a slot-loading "Combo" drive capable of reading DVD's and writing CD-R and CD-RW media and a 40GB hard disk drive. A higher-priced model upgrades the processor to 1.42GHz and adds additional storage.

In introducing the Mac mini, Apple CEO Steve Jobs described the device as "BYODKM," or Bring Your Own Display, Keyboard and Mouse. Unlike many Mac models, the Mac mini ships without these accouterments, but it's compatible with off-the-shelf USB keyboards, mice, and using an included adapter, VGA displays designed to work with Windows-compatible computers.

Analysts expect the Mac mini appeals to first-time Mac buyers who have been put off by the high price of Macintosh computers, including PC switchers fed up with endless Windows security problems and iPod owners. The system has also apparently gained traction among existing Macintosh users looking for an inexpensively priced second or third computer. Some experts hope the crossover appeal of the iPod and the low price of the Mac mini will help drive a "halo" effect, increasing Apple's personal computer marketshare.

Best Buy already sells Macs, Mac software and some Mac-compatible peripherals through its online store, and sells Apple's iPod music player through its retail channel as well. Apple and Best Buy started a pilot program in 2003 to sell Macs through select Best Buy retail stores, but that program was discontinued.

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