Best Buy to carry Mac Minis

Analysts have called on Apple to obtain broader distribution for the diminutive desktop, as the company has already done for its iPod.

Apple Computer's Mac Mini is finding its way to more store shelves, with Best Buy planning to carry the $499 computer nationwide.

Mac fans have noted that the diminutive desktop appeared on some store shelves last weekend, and Merrill Lynch issued a research note on Monday talking about the potential impact of such a move. Apple confirmed the plans on Tuesday.

"We are pleased to offer Mac Mini at Best Buy stores nationwide," Apple said in a statement to CNET News.com.

Analysts have called on Apple to obtain broader distribution for the Mac Mini, as the company has already done for its iPod. Target's online store briefly listed the Mac Mini shortly after its introduction, but pulled the listing after a rash of orders and uncertainty about when it would be able to meet demand.

Best Buy has been selling Macs online and also carries the iPod in its stores. Back in 2003, the two companies launched a pilot program that saw Macs being sold in some Best Buy stores, with Apple employees in some locations to help push the products.

Kevin Cockett, a Best Buy spokesman, said the retailer was "excited" to begin carrying the Mac Mini in all of its stores. "It's the latest innovation from Apple and strengthens Best Buy's assortment of computers."

Apple said on an earnings call last year that the two companies had decided not to continue the pilot, though Best Buy has continued to sell iPods in its stores.

Macs were widely carried at Best Buy until 1998, when Apple pulled out of several retailers: Best Buy, Circuit City, Computer City, Office Max and Sears.

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