Best Buy became an outlet for the iPhone back in 2008, and the retail chain of 1,100 stores has been integral in Apple expanding its reach – about 600 Best Buy stores host Apple stores within a store – this has been good for the company in geographic locations to where an entire dedicated Apple Store would be too much.
In the CIRP survey on iPhone purchases conducted between December, 2011 and February of this year, retail stores accounted for 76% of iPhone sales, with the other 24% being bought online. Most of the phones were sold by the mobile service carriers, at either AT&T and Verizon, at 32% and 30% respectively. Apple sold 15% – and Best Buy sold 13%, on par with Apple itself. The “other” respondents in the survey make up Radio Shack, Walmart and iPhones as gifts.
It’s clear that the carriers are in command of iPhone distribution, but retail outlets are just as important as the actual Apple Stores. CIRP’s Josh Lowitz stated, “Apple Stores and the Apple Web site are tremendously productive, but they are limited by their relatively small retail footprint – There are four times as many Best Buy stores, and probably 20 times as many AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint stores, so aggressive distribution through all these channels is critical to Apple’s U.S. strategy.”