Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Apple giveth and Apple taketh away

Yesterday's post discussed the benefits to Apple of cutting Best Buy and others out of selling the (rumoured) new Apple TV(s). This elicited a Twitter comment that led to an even better reason to cut them out...

For Apple to succeed in the TV market in a big way (or in their terminology, not as simply "a hobby") they need the cooperation of the cable providers more than they need Best Buy and Walmart. If fact, they probably don't need major retailers at all. Their own Apple Stores plus those of the cable providers are more than enough to start.

But, how would their valued retail partners react to this snub? Wouldn't they flip out?

Yes, they most definitely would.

Being shut out of the new game-changing Apple TV would be a major blow to them. Their TV sales are already in decline. How could they compete?

Apple's answer to that question is... the old Apple TV.

Bundling an Apple TV box with a selection from their wall-of-TVs would allow Best Buy and friends to compete for those otherwise unreachable Apple customers. They could offer more choice of sizes than Apple would, and they wouldn't have to change their selling practices much.

With this lifeboat of sorts, their snubbed retail partners would now be highly motivated to push these Apple TV bundles very aggressively.

This is really good for Apple, because it locks in these customers for future Apple TV purchases — some of which will be directly from Apple. Apple gains a new customer; the retailer potentially loses a future one. Strategically, it's ingenious.

Paradoxically, Best Buy might even prefer not having a TV from Apple to sell. With Apple's stingy margins, it would be a lot more profitable to continue selling other makers' TVs.