Best Buy's latest pricing strategy has come under fire in the tech community, and for good reason. As the Consumerist tells it, the electronics chain has been jacking up the prices of certain laptop models by $20 to $50 over their own regular pricing and then slapping an "As Advertised" sticker on the units in-store. Deceptive? Yeah, just a little. But illegal? Apparently not -- Best Buy isn't marking these as sale items, so it's all good in the hood, even if the company's street cred takes yet another hit.
Citing a dude named Donald, the Consumerist lists out several specific models with inflated price tags, including a Dell laptop (SKU 9693171) now selling for $649.99 instead of $629.99, and an HP notebook (SKU 9705373) advertised for $699.99 instead of $649.99.
So is this a blatant case of Best Buy charging an idiot tax? We're not so sure. A quick glance at Best Buy's online listings for both above mentioned models show the higher price tag, so either Best Buy adjusted its pricing after the media caught wind of what was going on, or the Consumerist is off its rocker. But there's also a third scenario. According to Engadget, Best Buy is bundling 6 months of Ask an Agent and Virus and Spyware Protection into each of the offers. These normally run an extra $20 each, or $40 total, which would explain the higher pricing.
Alright, smart shoppers. Start your engines, grab your plastic cards, and let's get shopping. But not just yet. You'll want to grab this week's Firefox Extension of the Week, The Camelizer, if you want any shot at making informed purchasing decisions. And by that, I mean waiting until the time is just right to pick up whatever it is you're hunting after from one of the major retailers of your choice.
Click the jump and get ready to do some hardcore shopping... Firefox-style!
Target this week announced plans to revamp its electronics and game section with a new open layout designed to enhance the shopping experience. Specifically, the videogame section is being retooled with 30 percent more floor space to make room for new product-accessible fixtures, such as game Learning Centers and Trial Centers.
"Target is committed to creating an intuitive and easy shopping experience for our guests," said Mark Schindele, senior vice president, Target. "The electronics and videogame reinvention was designed with the wants and needs of our guests as our top priority. They've asked for additional product diversity and better access to games and information, and our new layout offers them just that."
Target's timing is spot on. According to the NPD group, videogame hardware, software, and accessories generated $19.66 billion in revenue in 2009, so there are plenty of dollars to go around. One way Target will try to claim a larger share is through the use of its Learning Centers, which will feature a 40-inch high definition touch screen where guests can read reviews, learn about game features, view in-store price and inventory, sort by ESRB ratings, and more.
So when will this happen? In some stores, it already has. Target said the full chain rollout began in April 2010, while the majority of stores will have the new electronics layout completed by June 2010.
If you like to shop online, you really have no reason to not save additional money when purchasing, well, anything. That's a pretty generic statement, so let me break things down for you: A number of online retailers (or brick-and-mortar stores with online presences) have tons of deals, coupons, and promotional codes floating around the Web at any given time. These might be geared toward specific audiences; they might be sent out to locations you don't frequent or email addresses that aren't yours.
So how, then, can you save money and access these coupons or promotions when shopping your Firefox Web browser? Well, I'm glad you asked...
In a time long ago, Amazon was a book seller. They've continued to sell paper books while becoming the leader in ebooks, but they also sell a multitude of other products. In the past, most of Amazon's business was selling media like books, music, and movies. Now those "other" products make up the majority of the online retailer's sales. The news came in Amazon's earnings call today when it was also announced that they smashed projections by rocking a 46% revenue increase over last year.
Overall, Amazon took in $3.43 billion in sales from media, and $3.51 billion from everything else. Many analysts have expected this so-called "inversion point" to occur eventually. Amazon benefits from this in that they have a solid buffer in the face of the changing media landscape. It's no secret that Amazon liked having the eBook business all to themselves, but they'll never have that kind of comfortable perch again.
Certainly people are buying all sorts of things from Amazon. What are getting there? Still just books and DVDs? Or have you started buying your electronics from Amazon as well?
Move over Gamestop and make room for...7-Eleven? As crazy as it sounds, your local convenience store will soon begin selling used games priced under $20.
It's part of a new promotion called "Great Games Under $20" in which 7-Eleven has partnered with Game Trading Technologies to outfit half of its stores -- about 3,000 total -- with used videogames.
"What this means to consumers is that they will have many convenient locations, most open 24/7, to buy value-priced videogames," said Game Trading Technologies president and CEO Todd Hays. "The program is available to all 7-Eleven US franchisees, and we hope to have most US stores on board by September."
This isn't the first time 7-Eleven has sold videogames. The convenience store chain tried its hand at selling new games starting in late 2008, but got off to a rocky start when it sold some titles -- like Wrath of the Lich King -- before their street date.
As they tend to do, iSupply has broken down the iPad and worked out just what all those magical components are. After compiling and pricing all the individual parts, iSupply has estimated that there are $259.60 in parts in each 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad. That model retails for $499 leaving Apple with a healthy 48% gross margin.
The components associated with the display accounted for the largest proportion of the price, over 40%. The flash memory was also a big contributor to cost, but the increased price of these models keeps the margins around 50%. Clearly these numbers don't include R&D costs, but Apple has a reputation for maintaining higher margins than other hardware makers, who try to make up for lower margins with more sales over time.
We may not know just how much Apple is making on each iPad, but it seems clear they aren't taking a loss. The upcoming release of that 3G edition (with an extra $130 charge) should help as well. We look forward to the iSupply teardown of that model so we can see just what sort of magical 3G chip it has.
A leak of new training materials today have indicated that Verizon Wireless will be making some changes to its plans starting January 18th. First off, Verizon is getting rid of the all-inclusive Premium Plan. Big Red is also dropping the prices of their unlimited plans by 30%. This actually places the cost for unlimited minutes below that of AT&T.
Verizon is making some changes to their data plans as well. The carrier is going to offer a new 25MB data package for $9.99 per month, but the full $29.99 data plan is still required for smartphones. The new cheaper data plan is geared toward so-called “Multimedia Phones”, which will now require customers to purchase this plan. This seems to be a category Verizon has just made up, and includes handsets like the Chocolate Touch, the enV3, Moto Entice, and Nokia Twist among others.
While we’re happy to see the big price drop in unlimited plans, the new required data plans for some feature phones is disappointing. Do you think it’s reasonable?
Have you been holding off on buying that new console for fear of the setup process? Does the thought of wasting a whole ten minutes of you time plugging everything in and turning it on make you physically ill? Well then, Target will totally have you covered later this month. Yes, for a mere $99 Target will come to your house and set up your console.
If you are rich enough to go for this, Target will plug in the console to your TV, configure it, put it on your network, and setup online accounts. Technically, it’s a third party, Zip Installation, that’s doing the work, but Target is putting their name on it.
At a hundred bucks, I imagine it will be a tough sell. Would you, or anyone you know pay for this service?
Google’s Nexus One announcement earlier this week included confirmation that future phones sold on the Google website would all be available unlocked. So, Google intends to work with various hardware partners, and sell some of the resulting phones as Google branded. Some have said this could be a dangerous road for Google to travel, as they may risk alienating their partners. Among those critics is Microsoft.
Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices President Robbie Bach took Google to task for the move in a speech at CES. "Doing both in the way they are trying to do both is actually very, very difficult… Over time you have to decide whether your approach is with the partners or more like an Apple approach that is more about Apple. Google's is an interesting step. We'll see how people react," said Bach.
Microsoft has been struggling with Windows Mobile as of late, so you have to wonder if they should be giving Google advice in this space. It is possible that some hardware partners could be put off by Google’s move, but Android has one big advantage over Windows Mobile. Google does not charge their hardware partners a license fee to use Android. We’ll have to see if hardware companies are scared enough that Google could upstage them to pass up that deal.