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Best Buy’s Value Equation: How PCs Make it to Store Shelves



Our friends from Laptop Magazine interviewed Jason Bonfig, Best Buy’s VP of computing to interview the ‘most important person in the PC industry you’ve probably never heard.’ Bonfig oversees Best Buy’s value equation, a method that determines what PCs are sold in stores and online. What is and isn’t sold by Best Buy can influence the entire PC industry and its component companies.

The value equation takes every component of a PC, including its brand, and assigns it a customer value for the PC. The customer value is compared to the retail price and if the ratio is favorable the product has a better chance of making it onto store shelves.

The millions of customers who buy PCs from Best Buy each quarter are in effect casting votes for brands, processors, screen sizes, graphics, hard drive size and price points.

When it’s all said and done, a handfull of PCs make the cut each cycle and are placed on store shelves. In addition, there’s an array of online exclusives that Best Buy considers a good value, but doesn’t feel will do as well at its physical store locations.

From Best Buy’s perspective, the value equation makes a whole lot of sense, but the method means that we rarely see the best models and configurations offered by Lenovo, HP, Sony and the like at Best Buy. The reason is because the speedier processors, durability and other premium features don’t budge the value equation far enough to displace the often mediocre configurations that consumers are willing to pay for.

Does Best Buy offer a good selection of PCs that will satisfy most consumers? Absolutely. But if you’re looking for a highly-configured tablet or notebook you’ll probably need to look elsewhere.

Bonfig hinted that other tablet devices (similar to the iPad, not Tablet PCs) will be hitting Best Buy shelves this holiday season and early next year. The most important criteria for the devices? A competitive app store and excellent user experience.

Read the full interview over at Laptop Mag.



  1. Nameless

    07/21/2010 at 1:21 pm

    This is part of the reason why Tablet PCs never took off. You’d be hard-pressed to find them in such stores to begin with, and if by some stroke of luck you did, the pen is probably missing, thus making it seem like just another laptop (unless it has finger touch in addition to pen input).

    As for technology in general, I’m grateful for the Internet because it allows me to buy things I’d never have access to otherwise-especially because of my rather niche/specific interests. Esoteric input devices (ranging from mechanical keyswitch keyboards to 3dconnexion “3D mice” and their distinctive 6DoF control pucks to high-end flight simulations controls), retro gaming gear, very specific PC parts, and the like. Better yet, it’s generally CHEAPER this way.

    I’m more than willing to wait a few days for shipping as a result.

  2. Brett Gilbertson

    07/21/2010 at 11:53 pm

    This is a massive opportunity for smart resellers to fill the gap. Businesses need places to buy real functional tablet pcs, and they need to see them and understand them before the make decisions.

    There is a ground swell of resellers and ISVs here in Australia who have woken up to this opportunity, and remember that the US population is more than 20 times bigger… Is the US behind on this?

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