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Carriers Need Best Buy for Phone Sales, Report Says

by Todd Haselton | November 29, 2013November 29, 2013 12:00 pm PST


Best Buy has been doing its best to prevent itself from simply being a showroom, or a place for consumers to come see and try electronics before buying them elsewhere. However, when it comes to phones, the company’s retail operations are still very key, particularly for carriers. According to a new report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), both Best Buy and Apple are strong partners for carriers when it comes to pushing handsets.

Apple takes the cake mainly because its iPhones are so popular and it sells devices for all four major carriers in the United States. Sales from its stores account for about 11 percent of retail phone sales, according to a report from the CIRP obtained by AllThingsD. The report oddly doesn’t mention that Apple also provides wireless carriers with a very limited supply, which we would argue can ultimately hurt carrier sales on other products, such as accessories. If a consumer, for example, buys an iPad mini with Retina display from Apple, where shipping times are much shorter than from carriers due to increased supply, they very likely will also buy accessories there instead of in a carrier store.

Meanwhile, Best Buy accounts for 13 percent of all retail phone sales, also because it sells phones from all major wireless carriers and sells dozens of models. “Surprisingly, in light of its recent financial troubles, Best Buy has significant power,” CIRP’s Michael Levin explained to AllThingsD. Best Buy will face increased competition during this holiday season, particularly against other retail rivals such as Walmart and Target, but also against online retail powerhouses such as Amazon. The company’s revenues have declined during the month of December for the past several years, though perhaps retail phone sales can help it maintain traction.

Verizon sells the most phones at retail, 57 percent of all of of its sales, while Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T sell about 50 percent phones at retail, the report said, according to AllThingsD


Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...