Best Buy stores will begin selling Apple's iPhone 3G next month, becoming the first national retail chain outside of Apple and carrier AT&T to offer the wildly popular device.
Starting September 7, the 8GB and 16GB iPhone 3Gs will go on sale at 970 Best Buy stores and 16 smaller Best Buy Mobile stores, the retailer said. The deal is a coup for the Richfield, Minn.-based chain, which has been expanding its wireless offerings and introducing cell phone departments to its U.S. stores.
"It solidifies us as the place to go for the cool stuff," Best Buy Mobile President Shawn Score told Reuters in an interview. "Our customers are looking for this product."
The new distribution channel could help Apple could help achieve its goal of selling 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008. Apple announced in July that it had sold 1 million iPhone 3Gs through Apple and AT&T stores during its first weekend on the market.
The move could also help more people get their hands on the device. An AT&T representative confirmed last month that most of the company's stores ran out of iPhones the first day the devices were for sale. The current waiting period for iPhones at AT&T stores is about 7 to 10 days for customers, the company has said.
In keeping with Apple's long-standing retail pricing policy, Best Buy's iPhone prices will mirror those at Apple and AT&T: $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB model. Best Buy customers will also still have to sign a two-year contract with AT&T.
The distribution deal is an expansion of an existing relationship Apple has with Best Buy, which now sells Macs and iPods.