High End Electronics Sales Increasingly Driven By Mobile Gadgets

In the not-so-distant past, companies like Best Buy and Circuit Ci and, uh, Best Buy typically filled fall/winter advertising with big-ticket items like high-end HDTVs, new sound equipment, and an assortment of computer equipment. This year, Best Buy is planning its promotions and sales differently in response to consumers who have grown tired of more traditional electronic devices. This year the 60" TVs are out and the iPad is in. Best Buy also plans to devote more floor space to gaming consoles and e-readers while trimming its music/movie distribution.

"People are willing to disproportionately spend for these devices because they are becoming so important to their lives," Best Buy Chief Executive Brian Dunn said in an interview. "We are really positioning the company to be the place where people can come and see the best of the connected world."

That connected world features more iPad's than anyone expected if the analyst group NPD has its numbers right. Based on their estimates, the iPad has cannabilized netbook sales by as much as 50 percent. "It's a very different environment now," said Stephen Baker, the chief electronics analyst for market researcher NPD Group Inc. "The real cool stuff now will be the tablets, e-readers and probably the higher-end digital cameras."

If iPad's have genuinely stolen that much market share from netbooks, we're in for a very interesting show once AMD's Ontario and Intel's next-generation Atom platform both hit the market. Both platforms, particularly AMD's Ontario, should offer much stronger performance than previous netbooks, potentially reversing the industry's losses and iPad defections.

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