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Apple to expand Best Buy pilot to 50 stores

Apple Computer said Wednesday it plans to expand a pilot program aimed at testing Macintosh sales at Best Buy to approximately 50 stores nationwide.

The nations No. 1 specialty electronics retailer will stock Mac notebooks, desktops, as well as some accessories and software at each store, Apple executives said during a conference call.

Earlier this spring, Apple began testing sales of its Mac line at 7 Best Buy stores located in the Southern California region, each of which featured a new planogram layout that prominently displayed the systems in a designated area of the retailer's personal computer department.

Apple, which had been evaluating the 7-store pilot, decided just this week on an expansion, executives said during the conference call.

Best Buy had previously indicated that it was prepared to scale the pilot program to the majority of its retail stores if the concept proved to be successful. The retailer operates some 900+ outlets throughout the US, each of which already stocks Apple's iPod digital music players.

Analysts have said a full expansion could generate as much as $400 million in additional Mac sales for the Apple each year.

Meanwhile, Apple said it continues to evaluate a similar pilot program at a handful of Circuit City stores, but had no new information to report.