Windows Stores: Microsoft and Best Buy Team on Retail Space

Microsoft and Best Buy announced yesterday that they are teaming up to convert the computing sections of 600 Best Buy locations into new in-store retail shops called Windows Stores. The 1,500-2,200 square feet mini-stores plan to feature an array of Microsoft products including computers, phones and Xbox video game machines. Windows Stores will be distinctly designed featuring prominent Microsoft colors and logos, and plan to start opening this summer. Continue reading Windows Stores: Microsoft and Best Buy Team on Retail Space

Best Buy Now Selling Sony 4K Televisions in its U.S. Stores

In an effort to boost lagging television sales, Best Buy announced that 700 of its U.S. stores will start selling Sony 4K Ultra HDTVs this week. The home theater departments of Best Buy and Magnolia stores will prominently display the 4K sets and offer demonstrations that tout the benefits of the new format over current 1080p offerings. The demos are expected to emphasize up-scaling capabilities to help attract consumers. Continue reading Best Buy Now Selling Sony 4K Televisions in its U.S. Stores

General Electric Licenses Patents to Quirky Community

On Wednesday, General Electric announced a partnership with Quirky, a New York-based startup that acts as a kind of social network for inventors. This makes sense for GE as it continues making its push into the so-called Internet of Things, which encompasses various types of devices connected to the Internet – all of which combine to create a constant stream of data regarding how they operate together. Continue reading General Electric Licenses Patents to Quirky Community

U.S. Senate Votes in Favor of Levying Internet Sales Taxes

Some senators argued that implementing an Internet sales tax would be harmful to taxpayers, would be anti-business and would create a “bureaucratic nightmare.” Nonetheless, endorsement of Internet sales taxes onto a Democratic budget bill passed easily in the Senate last week by a 75 to 24 margin. The adopted amendment allows states to “collect taxes on remote sales,” ushering in the first national Internet sales tax. Continue reading U.S. Senate Votes in Favor of Levying Internet Sales Taxes

Amazon Growing, But Will Need to Fend Off Google in Retail

Back in 1990, Walmart suprassed Kmart in sales. In 1992, it passed up Sears. By 2011, it had higher worldwide sales than the combined total sales of the next six biggest retailers: Kroger, Target, Walgreens, Costco, Home Depot and CVS. That same year, Amazon was 15th on the list of top retailers. This year, it’ll likely end up in the 7th spot, just a few billion behind Target. But is Google stealing online retail from Amazon? Continue reading Amazon Growing, But Will Need to Fend Off Google in Retail

New Google Chromebook Pixel: High Price Tag But Impressive

Google’s latest hardware development hit stores last week as the company unveiled its first touchscreen laptop powered by the Google Chrome operating system. Called the Chromebook Pixel, it costs $1,299 for the Wi-Fi only version and $1,449 for the upcoming version with built-in LTE wireless technology for use on-the-go. The LTE version goes on sale in April with Verizon offering special wireless plans for new owners. Continue reading New Google Chromebook Pixel: High Price Tag But Impressive

Will Google Look to Compete with its Own Retail Stores?

According to 9to5Google, an “extremely reliable source” has confirmed that Google plans to build standalone retail stores in the U.S., with major metropolitan area flagship outlets opening in time for the holidays by the end of this year. The goal is to get new Google Nexus, Chrome and other upcoming products into the hands of customers, similar to the approach taken by competitors Apple and Microsoft. Continue reading Will Google Look to Compete with its Own Retail Stores?

Best Buy Hopes Low Price Guarantee Will End Showrooming

Best Buy announced it will institute a new policy change starting on March 3 that the company says will kill “showrooming” in its stores for good. The change is a permanent version of the temporary price-matching initiative Best Buy announced during the 2012 holiday rush. Whenever a customer asks for it, the retailer plans to match prices offered by local retail stores and major online competitors. Continue reading Best Buy Hopes Low Price Guarantee Will End Showrooming

Shoppers Use Tools to Keep Track of Online Price Changes

Research from Dynamite Data shows that retailers such as Amazon, Sears, Walmart and Best Buy changed their daily Internet prices on various holiday products during 2012 much more frequently than in previous years. Since too many changes can prove overwhelming to shoppers, new tools have been developed, some of which automatically scan for changes and alert consumers when prices drop. Continue reading Shoppers Use Tools to Keep Track of Online Price Changes

CinemaNow Introduces Availability of HD Movies from Fox and Warner Bros.

  • CinemaNow — the online video service launched by electronics chain Best Buy in 2010 — has announced it will offer 1080p HD movies from Fox and Warner Bros. on personal computers. “Until now, only standard-definition movies were available from CinemaNow on the PC,” writes Carolyn Giardina in The Hollywood Reporter.
  • Thomas Gewecke, president of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, indicates that CinemaNow is using Intel technology to make secure HD content available. “Intel Insider is a hardware-based security technology in second-generation Intel Core processors,” reports THR, “which is the fastest-shipping Intel product with more than 75 million units shipped to date.”
  • “The partnership with Intel and Best Buy’s CinemaNow to bring HD digital downloads of our movies to the PC will expand our reach to millions of devices in the U.S. and potentially more around the world,” adds Mike Dunn, worldwide president at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
  • CinemaNow currently offers approximately 15,000 movies and TV shows.

Rhapsody is Betting on Napster Purchase to Grow Subscriber Base

  • Subscription-based music service Rhapsody has acquired Napster from Best Buy in a deal expected to be finalized the end of November.
  • “There’s substantial value in bringing Napster’s subscribers and robust IP portfolio to Rhapsody as we execute on our strategy to expand our business via direct acquisition of members and distribution deals,” said Rhapsody president Jon Irwin.
  • Rhapsody and Napster have the two largest music service subscriber bases and the acquisition could impact other music services such as Rdio, Spotify and MOG.
  • Irwin emphasized the importance of a strong subscription base: “This is a ‘go big or go home’ business, so our focus is on sustainably growing the company.”
  • “Apparently it takes more than Facebook sharing to win the subscription war,” comments Gizmodo. “Too bad I haven’t seen a Rhapsody or Napster song actually shared on Facebook.”

Rovi Provides Security and New Features for DivX Streams

  • Rovi has announced DivX Plus Streaming that allows cloud-based movie services, such as Best Buy’s CinemaNow and other sites integrated with the Rovi Entertainment Store, to stream movies securely to DivX-compatible devices.
  • New features include being able to pause on one device and seamlessly resume on another, improved video quality, and support for multiple language tracks and subtitles.
  • “Other content-protection companies, such as Google’s Widevine subsidiary, offer some similar capabilities to service providers, so Rovi is playing catch-up to a degree. And not every Hollywood studio allows its movies to be distributed in the DivX format,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “Rovi executives insist, however, that they’ve leapfrogged the competition with some features, including the near-Blu-ray-quality images and the ability to support multiple alternate-language soundtracks and subtitles in the same stream.”
  • Although integration into specific products has yet to be announced, Rovi explained the technology will be available to many existing devices through a firmware update.

New Insignia Connected TV with TiVo Interface Draws Praise

  • Gizmodo, a noted cynic when it comes to connected TVs, praises the interface and general functionality of the new Insignia Connected TV.
  • Through a partnership with TiVo, the Insignia Connected TV will be available on and at Best Buy stores. The 32-inch model will be priced at $499 and the 42-inch model will cost $699.
  • “TiVo has evolved from its roots as the DVR that changed the way consumers interact with entertainment, allowing us to customize and deliver solutions that best meet the needs of our partners like Insignia,” said Jim Denney, general manager and VP of Product Marketing at TiVo.
  • Features include 1080p LCD, 120Hz and Audyssey sound processing. Entertainment options include Netflix, CinemaNow, YouTube, Pandora and Napster — plus apps from the chumby content network such as Facebook, Twitter, Photobucket, Accuweather, Reuters News and more.
  • Gizmodo comments: “The set’s interface is refreshingly simple, responsive, and natural…the real pull is the TiVo blood inside. No, there’s no DVR integrated — but for the first time, I looked at an ‘app TV’ that didn’t make me want to light it on fire. TiVo knows software. It shows.”

Microsoft to Expand Retail Presence with 75 New Stores

  • Microsoft plans to add at least 75 new stores in the next two-three years, part of an aggressive strategy to beef up its competition with Apple.
  • At the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles on July 13, COO Kevin Turner said the plans also include international locations.
  • Microsoft currently operates 11 brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S., while Apple has more than 320 worldwide.
  • Executives at Microsoft have reportedly been debating the bold and potentially risky move, since most of the company’s stores are not making money and most of their products are also available at traditional retailers such as Best Buy.
  • The post includes a U.S. map of planned store locations.