Best Buy to Become First Major Retailer to Sell Apple Watch

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Best Buy Co. will start selling the Apple Watch next month, becoming the first national retail chain to offer the device outside of Apple Inc.’s own stores.

More than 100 Best Buy locations will have the Apple Watch starting on Aug. 7, the Richfield, Minnesota-based company said in a statement Sunday. An additional 200 stores will get the device by the holiday season, and Best Buy’s website will offer it as well.

The product’s arrival could bring a much-needed lift to Best Buy, which has forecast sluggish sales in the second half of this year. A lack of innovative products has been hampering demand for the broader electronics industry, with the few bright spots being mobile phones -- like last year’s release of Apple’s iPhone 6 -- and ultra-high-definition televisions.

“The Apple Watch is an important addition to an emerging product category, and we know our customers want it,” Jason Bonfig, Best Buy’s senior category officer, said in the statement.

For now, wearable technology has been a small but growing industry. Fitness-tracking wristbands from Fitbit Inc. and Jawbone Inc. have been winning over early adopters, and the Apple Watch is seen as a way to broaden the market.

Sixteen Models

Best Buy is a long-time Apple partner that features boutiques dedicated to the brand in its stores. It will sell 16 Apple Watch models, including the Sport and Watch versions, as well as almost 50 accessories. The watch has an average selling price of about $500, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The Apple Watch, which debuted in April, has been sold through Apple’s website and shops -- along with a select few boutiques and department stores. While the company hasn’t released specific sales figures for the watch, Apple said the product sold more units than the iPhone and iPad did at this point.

“We feel very good about the start and what we feel particularly happy about is, frankly, the customer response, the feedback we’re getting,” Luca Maestri, Apple’s chief financial officer, said in an interview last week.

For Apple, expanding distribution to Best Buy will be a test of whether the watch can evolve from a pricey, niche product into a mass-market hit like its laptops, phones and tablets. That’s even more crucial to Apple and investors after its latest revenue forecast missed expectations.

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