By Sept. 4, the Apple Watch will be available in 900 Best Buy stores, and it will appear in the retailer’s remaining locations by the end of the month, CEO Hubert Joly said.
Best Buy began selling the wearable in 100 stores as well as online on Aug. 7. The company had planned to expand availability to 200 additional stores by the Christmas shopping season.
However, “early momentum” from the Apple Watch “triggered” Best Buy to expand and accelerate the rollout, Joly said during a conference call to discuss the company’s second-quarter earnings.
Joly didn’t say how many Apple Watches the chain has sold so far. Apple hasn’t shared watch sales data either.
During Apple’s third-quarter earnings conference call, CEO Tim Cook said customers would have more ways to purchase the smartwatch because the company expects it to be a popular Christmas gift. A few days later, Best Buy said it would carry the wearable.
Best Buy is the only major retailer to stock the Apple Watch. The device can also be purchased from Apple’s retail and online stores and from a few high-end clothing and department stores.
Joly also discussed plans to expand Best Buy’s relationship with Apple.
The Apple shop-in-a-shop sections of 740 Best Buy stores are getting a makeover, with new fixtures and larger display tables to show Apple hardware, he said. So far, Best Buy has remodeled 350 of those departments and will revamp another 170 by the holiday shopping season.
The Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport models will be sold at more than 300 Best Buy stores in time for the holiday shopping season, a spokeswoman for Apple Inc said.
“Customers love Apple Watch, and we are thrilled to begin offering it at Best Buy,” she said in an email.
Best Buy is the first retailer to sell the watch outside of the Apple retail store.
“The Apple Watch is an important addition to an emerging product category, and we know our customers want it,” Jason Bonfig, senior category officer, said on the Best Buy website.
The company said the product will also be available on its online store BestBuy.com.
The Wall Street Journal first reported that the Apple watch was coming to Best Buy.
Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told Reuters earlier this month that sales of the Apple Watch had beat the company’s expectations. He said in the nine weeks since its launch in late April, the device had sold better than either iPhones or iPads over a similar period after their launch.
Best Buy said its customers could start using Apple Pay from Monday to shop using its app through the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, thus appearing to break ranks with a group of leading U.S. merchants who are backing an alternative payment system.
“The acceptance of Apple Pay in the Best Buy app is the latest enhancement for our mobile platform,” the giant retailer said in a statement on Monday. Best Buy stores in the U.S. will start accepting Apple Pay later this year, it added.
Apple CEO Tim Cook also announced during an earnings conference call Monday that Apple Pay would be supported on the Best Buy app now and in stores later this year.
The move by Best Buy is significant as the retailer is part of Merchant Customer Exchange, a merchant’s association that backs its own mobile payments platform called CurrentC. MCX members Rite Aid and CVS stopped accepting Apple Pay at their stores a week after the launch of the Apple system, in a move that was seen as reflecting the rivalry between the two payment systems.
Best Buy could not be immediately reached for comment on whether it would support both CurrentC and Apple Pay once the MCX payment system is available.
The retailer, however, seemed to suggest in its statement that it will support both options. “Today’s consumers have many different ways to spend their money and we want to give our customers as many options as possible in how they pay for goods and services at Best Buy,” it said.
Apple Pay got another big win on Monday when card issuer Discover Financial Services said its card members in the U.S. would be able to make contactless payments using Apple Pay at participating stores, through the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch. Discover card members will also be able to make purchases through apps on the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3.
The prices have been falling steadily from $700 or more earlier this year. 4K monitors are available from Samsung, Sharp, Dell, Asus, Acer, Monoprice and small vendors.
4K gives a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, or four times deeper than conventional 1080p resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.
Dell is selling its 28 Ultra HD P2815Q monitor for $449.99, down from $699.99 when the product started shipping earlier this year. Newegg is selling 28-inch monitors from AOC and Planar for $499.99.
Samsung has also dropped the price of its 28-inch 4K monitor, the UD590, which is now selling for $599.99 through retailers like Best Buy and Newegg.
Not all 4K prices have dipped so low. Lenovo’s ThinkVision 28-inch Pro2840m is still selling for $799.99. It was announced in January and started shipping around the middle of the year.
It’s important to check all the features on lower priced monitors. They often have a all the main features and ports but suffer on refresh rates, which affect the display’s ability to cope with fast-moving images. For example, Dell’s P2815Q monitor has been criticized for its 30Hz refresh rate. Samsung’s UD590 has the more desirable 60Hz refresh rate via its DisplayPort 1.2, but it drops to 30Hz when connected to a PC via the HDMI port.
Increased competition is bringing prices down, as monitor makers try to attract buyers. Intel recently predicted that 4K monitor prices will fall to below $400 by the end of this year.
As with the other types of computer hardware, prices will continue to fall quickly over the next couple of years and then more gradually after that, said Jonathan Gaw, a research manager at IDC.
EBay Inc is making over its local delivery program and extending more logistics options to smaller merchants that make up the bulk of the e-commerce giant’s sprawling base of marketplace sellers, according to one of its executives.
More of eBay’s smaller sellers, including some with annual sales under $100,000, will allow shoppers to buy items online that can be picked up in stores, an option now used by big companies such as Best Buy Co Inc and Toys ‘R’ Us.
EBay also plans to dismantle its standalone mobile app for its $5 same-day delivery service “eBay Now” as soon as this week. The service will instead be folded into eBay’s mobile app and website.
“The big play in the U.S. has been around buy online, pick-up in store,” Tom Allason, head of eBay Local, said Wednesday.
The shift reflects how eBay and other technology companies, including Amazon.com Inc and Google Inc, still struggle with the high cost of same-day delivery. Only a fraction of a small retailer’s sales come from customers who also opt for same-day delivery, making it difficult to make a profit.
“That’s a part of why delivery is only one piece of the equation,” Allason said in an interview.
Earlier, the e-commerce giant intensified efforts to court retailers as it prepares to split its marketplaces division next year from PayPal, the payments unit that has been the fastest-growing part of its business.
EBay had planned to expand same-day delivery to 25 markets by the end of 2014, but it is only available in New York, San Francisco, the broader Bay Area, Dallas and Chicago.
EBay is exploring other delivery options for the United States, Germany and other markets, including the “click-and-collect” model used by Shutl in the United Kingdom, in which shoppers pick up certain eBay purchases from British retailer Argos.
The company, which is reportedly opening the store on Manhattan’s busy 34th Street, is looking to experiment with a retail store that would focus on same-day delivery in the city, as well as give customers a place for product returns, exchanges and even online order pickups, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) .
The store also would give shoppers a place to check out – and hold in their hands — Amazon’s Kindle e-readers and Fire smartphone.
Kelly Cheeseman, a spokeswoman for Amazon, told Computerworld, “We have made no announcements about a location in Manhattan.”
“This is kind of interesting because it’s so counter-intuitive,” said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. “People buy in different ways and often, with holiday buying, folks shift sharply to stores as their procrastination catches up with them at the end of the season. Amazon loses business when this happens and by setting up stores in very high-traffic areas, they can go after at least some of this business.”
The brick-and-mortar store also will be an in-your-face reminder for people to think about shopping at Amazon as they move through Manhattan. They might not be able to stop in the store but it might nudge them to look online – especially at Amazon.com — for that sweater, book or stand mixer they want to buy.
“I think it’s more about bringing publicity to Amazon during the holiday season rather than a new move to bricks and mortar,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. “First, it’s in New York City — in the heart of midtown Manhattan — and it will be open during the Christmas shopping season. I would also imagine that this will garner Amazon a lot of attention during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping events.”
New prices for the Surface Pro 2 — which debuted last fall — now run $799 for the model with 64GB of storage and $899 for the 128GB configuration. The cuts represent discounts of 11% and 10%, respectively.
Microsoft is scheduled to start selling the Surface Pro 3 it’s-a-tablet-it’s-a-notebook on Friday. The company has been taking pre-orders for the device since the Surface Pro 3′s unveiling on May 21.
The Surface Pro 3 tablets start at $999 for the 128GB model and end at $1,299 for 256GB of storage. Both devices sport a Core i5 processor, the same one used in 2013′s Surface Pro 2.
Three other Surface Pro 3 tablets won’t ship until August, Microsoft has said, including the $799 64GB model that runs an Intel Core i3 processor, and two configurations boasting the Core i7 CPU, priced at $1,549 (256GB of storage) and $1,949 (512GB).
The Surface Pro 3 devices available this week will be available in Microsoft’s own brick-and-mortar stores and those of retail partners like Best Buy, and on Microsoft’s online outlet.
When the $799 entry-level Surface Pro 3 reaches retail later this summer, Microsoft will probably slash the price of the Surface Pro 2 tablets even further to empty its inventory.
Microsoft has promised to support the Surface Pro 2 with software and firmware updates until April 10, 2018.
The Surface Pro 2 can be ordered through Microsoft’s website. The prices do not include a cover keyboard, which is essential for running Windows legacy applications.
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called on the agency to “seize this opportunity” and act on a year-old proposal to make an additional 195MHz of spectrum in the 5GHz band available for Wi-Fi. The FCC now allows wireless devices to operate in 555 megahertz of spectrum in the 5GHz band, but the agency has set limits on how some of that spectrum can be used.
With some analysts estimating that 50 percent to 70 percent of mobile phone traffic is now offloaded onto Wi-Fi networks, the longtime Wi-Fi band at 2.4GHz is “getting mighty crowded,” Rosenworcel said during a speech before WifiForward, a new group set up to push for more unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum. Members of the group include Google, Microsoft, Best Buy and Comcast.
“Let’s start by leaving behind the tired notion that we face a choice between licensed and unlicensed airwaves, because good spectrum policy requires both,” she said. “Moreover, I think this kind of division is a simplistic relic from the past. ”
Some mobile carriers and congressional Republicans have questioned whether the FCC should carve out unlicensed spectrum in lower bands coveted by the carriers, but carriers don’t see a licensed use for the 5GHz band. Satellite firm Globalstar uses part of the 5GHz band, however, and has raised interference concerns about new Wi-Fi services there.
Cisco Systems predicts that by 2017, a majority of the Internet’s traffic will be carried on Wi-Fi. About 90 percent of the tablets now sold in the U.S. have Wi-Fi-only connections, added Raul Katz, director of business strategy research at the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information. Counting several factors, including the cost for mobile infrastructure that would be needed without Wi-Fi, the annual value of Wi-Fi to the U.S. economy is about US$220 billion, Katz said at the WifiForward event.
In addition, part of the 5GHz band is targeted for use by smart automobile technologies, and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America and other auto groups have also backed opening that part of the band to Wi-Fi. The FCC may act on part of the 5GHz band as soon as its March 31 meeting.
Parts of the 5GHz band present a “terrific near-term opportunity” to add Wi-Fi spectrum, Rosenworcel said. “We should move beyond old dichotomies that pit licensed versus unlicensed spectrum,” she said. “Because across the board we need to choose efficiency over inefficiency and speed over congestion. Because we can take steps that inspire innovation and meet the growing demand for wireless services — or we will fall behind.”
Rosenworcel also called on the FCC to consider opening up parts of lower bands to unlicensed Wi-Fi, including parts of the 600MHz band now controlled by U.S. television stations. That spectrum, eyed by carriers as some of the best available for mobile broadband service, is scheduled to be auctioned by the FCC in mid-2015.
The C720P Touchscreen Chromebook has an 11.6-inch touchscreen, which displays images at a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. The lightweight laptop offers roughly seven-and-a-half hours of battery life and runs on an Intel Celeron 2955U processor based on the Haswell microarchitecture.
Chromebooks are laptops for those who do most of their computing on the Web. Chrome OS is mostly adapted for keyboards, but the touchscreen could ease selection of options in menus and improve interaction in browsers and other applications.
A new wave of Chromebooks running the latest version of Chrome OS started shipping in October.
The laptop will be available in early December through Amazon.com, Best Buy and Acer’s online store. The laptop will be available in the U.S., Switzerland, Germany, U.K., France, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden and Finland.
Other Chromebooks include Acer Chromebook C720-2848, which has an Intel processor and is priced at $199.99, and Hewlett-Packard and Google’s Chromebook 11, which has an ARM processor and is priced at $279. HP’s Chromebook 14 has a 14-inch screen, an Intel processor and is priced at $299 in Office Depot.
The C720P weighs 1.35 kilograms and boots in seven seconds. Other features include 32GB of solid-state storage, 2GB of DDR3 memory, USB 3.0 ports, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and an HDMI slot. Users will get 100GB of free Google Drive storage for two years with the laptop.
According to leaked and published advertisements of the sales, which will begin on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 28, Best Buy, Target and Walmart will all sell brand-name tablets at steep discounts.
Electronics chain Best Buy, for example, will sell Apple’s iPad 2, a tablet introduced in 2011, for $300, or $99 off Apple’s list price. Even though Apple recently launched the 9.7-in. iPad Air, and started selling the upgraded 7.9-in. iPad Mini with a high-resolution display, it kept the iPad 2 in its portfolio, reportedly because schools continue to purchase the model and some businesses have standardized on the tablet for point-of-sales devices.
Best Buy will also discount the 16GB iPad Air by $50, selling it for $449, or 10% less than list.
Both Walmart and Target will sells 2012′s iPad Mini — the one that sports 1,024 x 768 screen resolution — at Apple’s $299 stock price, but will throw in a $100 or $75 gift card, respectively, effectively reducing the price to $199 or $224.
Including the gift cards, the Walmart iPad Mini deal represents a 33% discount, while Target’s comes in at 25% below full retail.
Target will also sell the new 16GB iPad Air for $479, then include a $100 gift card, reducing the overall cost to $379, for a 24% savings.
Best Buy was the only one of the three retailers to also list Microsoft’s Surface, formerly tagged the Surface RT, a 32GB tablet that runs Windows RT, the scaled-down version of the legacy application-supporting Windows 8.1. Best Buy’s $200 sale price for the Surface will be 75% below list.
Although Microsoft continues to sell the Surface on its website and online store, the Redmond, Wash. company refreshed the line last month by introducing the Surface 2, which starts at $449.
Apple and Microsoft will probably run Black Friday sales of their own on Nov. 29; both companies did last year.
The laptop runs on Chrome OS, and is designed for people who do most of their computing on the Internet. It has an 11.6-inch screen and weighs 1.04 kilograms, making it one of the lightest laptops available.
In a laptop first, it only requires a micro-USB power adapter. That means any charger used to power an Android tablet or smartphone can be used with Chromebook 11.
“When you’re traveling, you don’t need to throw an extra charger into your bag,” wrote Caesar Sengupta, vice president of product management at Google in a blog entry.
The laptop can run for 6.5 hours on a single battery charge. It has a Samsung Exynos processor running at 1.7GHz, 16GB of solid-state drive storage and 2GB of low-power DDR3 RAM. The storage capacity may be small, but Google is offering 100GB of cloud storage for two years at no additional charge.
The screen displays images at a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Other features include a webcam, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
Chromebooks vary in price from $199 for Acer’s low-end C7 Chromebook to $1,299 for Google’s high-end Pixel. This is the second Chromebook running on an ARM processor besides Samsung’s Chromebook. Chromebooks with Intel processors were shown by Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard and Acer last month and are expected to ship by the end of this year. Lenovo also markets a Chromebook intended especially for schools.
Chromebook 11 will be available on Oct. 20 through Best Buy andAmazon.com in the U.S., and through retailers like PC World in the U.K. It will become available in other countries during the holiday shopping season, Google said.
The Silicon Valley startup that elevated the lowly thermostat with attention-grabbing designs is now launching a $129 “Nest Protect,” a smoke and carbon monoxide detector that speaks and responds to hand gestures.
Nest – co-founded by Apple alums Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers – has embedded its sleek gadget with a female voice that warns users when smoke and carbon monoxide levels get dangerously high.
Users can wave a hand to silence alarms, and choose to receive alerts on their smartphone or tablet, Matt Rogers said in an interview with Reuters.
“It’s really about finding the unloved and these things are incredibly important that you cannot live without,” he said, when asked why Nest decided to work on a smoke detector. “Yet they don’t work. They are frustrating. They are ugly.”
Rogers said there really has been no innovation in this market for many years and is ripe for disruption.
The market for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors is three to four times bigger than thermostats, Nest’s first device that retails for $249, Rogers said. “We are again looking at the top end of the market.”
The new device has a battery life between three and seven years, and comes in black and white. It will first go on sale in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. And the smoke alarm can be set to warn in either English, French or Spanish.
Nest Protect includes nine sensors to help detect hand gestures and other movements. The device can also act as a low-powered night light that automatically switches on when someone walks under it.
The new gadget goes on sale in November at retailers such as Best Buy and Home Depot, or online at Amazon.com.
Nest, which counts Kleiner Perkins, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Google Ventures and Shasta Ventures among its investors, employs a large number of designers and engineers from Silicon Valley firms like Apple and Google Inc.
It gained a large following with its first thermostat – a round, brushed-metal device with a convex glass screen that displays temperature and changes hue to match the color of the wall it attaches to. It also tracks usage and employs that data to automatically set heating and cooling temperatures.
Nest now has about 280 employees, up from 90 in 2011.
“It’s been an absolute ride,” Rogers said of Nest’s journey from a startup in stealth mode to a recognized brand in home automation.
During the blackout, more than 3 million Time Warner Cable customers in cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Dallas have been unable to watch CBS, and the companies have been unable to reach a new programming deal since their agreement expired in June.
The cable company notified customers on its website and by email that they could ask for basic indoor antennas at their local Time Warner Cable store. It also offered a $20 voucher for customers who want to buy antennas at Best Buy Co Inc.
“All blacked-out broadcast stations remain available over the air, and most households can receive the signals if they have the right equipment,” the cable company said.
It also offered Amazon gift cards so customers can watch CBS programs, using Amazon’s Internet streaming service.
CBS declined to comment on the offers.
CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said Thursday that both sides continued to negotiate but that no resolution was in sight. Most analysts expect the two parties to reach a deal by the time the National Football League season kicks off in September.
The cuts came three weeks after much more dramatic discounts to Microsoft’s Surface RT, which was reduced by up to 30% to prices starting at $349.
Microsoft said that the price cuts would be valid in the U.S. and Canada until August 30, or while supplies last. Discounts were also offered to customers in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
U.S. electronics retailer Best Buy — a key Microsoft partner — also was selling the Surface Pro tablets at the lower prices Sunday, as was Staples.
The Surface Pro tablets rely on Windows 8 Pro and Intel processors, rather than the stripped-down Windows RT and lower-powered ARM processors of the Surface RT devices. Surface Pro tablets can run traditional Windows software like the full-featured Office 2013 productivity suite.
While the price cuts were reminiscent of the more aggressive Surface RT discounts, their much smaller size could simply be part of Microsoft’s back-to-school marketing: August is the biggest month for that selling season, which is second only to the end-of-the-year holidays for retailers pushing consumer electronics, personal computers and tablets.
Microsoft is expected to refresh its Surface tablet lines this fall, a notion reinforced by company executives, who have repeatedly pledged that the company is in the tablet business for the long haul. The Surface Pro discounts could be part of the usual push to empty inventory prior to the launch of new models.
The 10% to 11% price cuts were also in line with other hardware makers’ recent discounting. Last month, Best Buy ran a short-term deal that chopped prices of the MacBook Pro by as much as 17%, and for college students, up to 25%.
EBay Now, which delivers products from stores including Target, Walgreen and Best Buy in as little as an hour, was launched last year in San Francisco and San Jose, California and Manhattan, New York.
EBay is expanding the service to Brooklyn and Queens in New York and to the Bay Area peninsula, between San Francisco and San Jose. Chicago and Dallas will be added later this summer and the service may expand outside the United States in the future, eBay executives said last week.
EBay’s expansion comes as Amazon builds more warehouses closer to customers, which will help the world’s largest Internet retailer offer faster delivery.
EBay, which does not own inventory and mostly avoids running warehouses, is partnering with retailers to create a network of existing physical stores that will, in effect, operate as mini storage and distribution hubs for online purchases.
“This is eBay’s answer to Amazon getting fulfillment centers closer to consumers,” said Ron Josey, an analyst at JMP Securities.
Both companies are chasing the latest frontier in e-commerce: the 75 percent of retail spending that happens within 15 miles of home.
This is a $2 trillion-a-year market in the United States that includes products suited to immediate neighborhood shopping, such as cleaning products, groceries, health and beauty items, according to J.P. Morgan estimates.
If EBay, Amazon and other companies can deliver such products quickly enough, they could grab a bigger share of this local commerce market, J.P. Morgan analysts including Doug Anmuth wrote in a recent note to investors.
Google Inc, the world’s largest Internet search company, is pursuing the same opportunity through its Google Shopping Express test, which started same-day deliveries in the San Francisco Bay Area earlier this year.
Palo Alto Toy & Sport, a Bay Area retailer, is on course to get about 5 percent of its sales this year through Google Shopping Express.
“It’s a way to offer more than Amazon,” said Miguel Natario, systems administrator at the retailer. “This gives us hope for increased sales.”
Wal-Mart Stores Inc is also testing same-day delivery through its Walmart To Go program in a handful of cities.