Best Buy CEO: Who’s Afraid of the iPad?

Several weeks ago, Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn said the iPad had sliced notebook sales by “as much as 50%.” He soon walked back on that statement, and today, explained how the mistake occurred.

“I was brutally misquoted,” Dunn told reporters at Best Buy’s holiday preview event Tuesday. “Let’s try this again. What we saw was approximately 40% to 50% cannibalization on netbook sales during a very narrow window–not over a sustained period of time.”

Mike Vitelli, Best Buy president, chimed in with a clarification. “If 100 people came and bought an iPad, what we saw was that 50 of them–and this is just compared with previous netbook trends in that store in that week–50 of those people were incremental, and there were 50 less netbooks sold versus if there were 1000. You follow me?”

No, not really.

“The math is on the number of iPads that got sold, which is still very, very small,” he added, seeming to indicate that 50% of iPad sales have come from netbook sales–not that iPads ate up half of netbook purchases.

In fact, Dunn, contrary to his previous statement, doesn’t believe iPads and other devices will slow sales of laptops whatsoever.


“I do not believe that tablets are the death of notebook computers, at all,” the Best Buy CEO said. “I think tablets will continue to drive innovation.”

Then, when asked why laptops wouldn’t be eclipsed by tablets, Dunn appeared to backtrack yet again.

“I actually didn’t say that,” he answered. “We were talking specifically about the cannibalization. I think what tablets are going to do is stimulate more, faster innovation.”

So are tablets the death of notebooks or not? Why won’t tablets eclipse laptops? What kind of innovation could save them? Here’s hoping for a straight answer sometime soon.