The iPhone Is a Best Buy

Move over, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) . Step aside, AT&T (NYSE: T  ) . Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) just became the first pure electronics retailer to carry the iPhone.

This isn't a strategy so much as a carpet-bombing. Not of Circuit City and Radio Shack (NYSE: RSH  ) -- in fact, there's a rumor that Radio Shack is next in line to sell the device -- but of the market. Apple, again, is aiming for pervasiveness. Best Buy, with nearly 1,000 stores in the U.S., could boost the iEmpire's iPhone sales network by more than 40%.

And it's doing so with a partner that's spent time and money getting prepared. Best Buy already sells Macs in its stores, and its new Mobile group has invested in in-store activation systems, a must after iTunes activations proved to be problematic for early buyers of the iPhone 3G.

At the core of an Apple strategy for domination
But Best Buy is more than a partner; it's a blunt instrument. CEO Steve Jobs said at last year's Macworld that Apple would sell 10 million iPhones in 2008. With Best Buy, I can see the iEmpire exceeding its goal and then selling three or four times that in subsequent years.

The timing is right. Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) BlackBerry is no longer just for the button-down-shirt-and-khaki crowd. Nokia's (NYSE: NOK  ) handsets are getting richer in function by the day. And even if I'm bearish on Palm (Nasdaq: PALM  ) , there's no denying that its cute little Centro is a winner.

Smartphones have arrived at the first-prover stage of this mass-market race. Whoever builds the best, most pervasive, most affordable platform wins. Apple, with Best Buy, just got a nice tailwind.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers owned shares of Nokia at the time of publication. When he’s not typing up articles for Fool.com, you'll find him picking growth stocks for Rule Breakers. Get access to all of his writings, or enjoy a daily dose of his Foolishness with this feed for your RSS reader.

Apple and Best Buy are Stock Advisor selections. Best Buy is also an Inside Value recommendation. Try either of these market-beating services free for 30 days. There's no obligation to subscribe.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Best Buy. Its disclosure policy is iDorable.


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