In yet another signal of Apple's determination to build market share for the iPhone, Best Buy will start selling the popular device as of Sept. 7.
The Best Buy deal means customers will have nearly 1,000 more places to purchase an iPhone. Apple has 189 U.S. stores, while AT&T; has more than 2,000.
More precisely, the iPhone will be sold through Best Buy Mobile, a joint venture with U.K.-based Carphone Warehouse Group PLC. Carphone Warehouse now sells the device in the United Kingdom.
Best Buy, of course, has an arrangement with Apple to sell Macs and iPods. Those existing relationships reportedly eased the deal.
The terms of sale will be identical to what you'd get buying from an Apple or AT&T; store: the same prices ($199 for the 8 GB model, $299 for the 16 GB model) and the same requirement for a two-year service contract with AT&T.;
Selling more iPhones obviously benefits AT&T; and Apple, but what's in it for Best Buy?
Since it will offer the iPhone at the same prices as Apple and AT&T;, one wonders whether Best Buy will make much money, if any, from serving as an iPhone retailer.
Apparently Best Buy hopes the iPhone will bring in new customers while enhancing the chain's tech-hip factor.
"It solidifies us as the place to go for the cool stuff," Best Buy Mobile president Shawn Score told Reuters, also noting that customers have been asking for the product.
One wonders whether Apple might consider more deals with retailers to sell the iPhone. Though Apple told The Wall Street Journal that it has no plans for other U.S. deals, we all know how easy it is to find an iPod. Apple's desire to make the iPhone ubiquitous could encourage more partnerships in the future.
For example, adding RadioShack's 6,000 stores to the retailing mix - it now sells other AT&T; phones - would more than double the number of places where the iPhone is sold.