updated 05:00 pm EDT, Mon April 7, 2008
Carphone Warehouse in US
Europe's Carphone Warehouse is coming to the US, reports say. The company is an independent cellphone vendor, and has some 2,300 stores scattered throughout European countries. It is now planning to open almost 1,000 stores in America, thanks to a partnership with big-box retailer Best Buy, which owns a 3 percent stake in Carphone. Some of these will be boutiques within Best Buy shops, but others will operate separately in different locations. The first American outlets should launch later this year.
Carphone began in Britain, and is said to have had significant impact on Europe's cellphone industry, by selling people plans and phones from multiple carriers. Shoppers thus had a better sense of what packages were actually worth, forcing companies to lower their prices or offer new benefits. Clerks were also able to offer objective thought on options, and sell more after-sale services.
Notable is that the company is also the only independent vendor of the iPhone, which is otherwise sold around the world either by Apple or by local carriers. It is unclear however whether Carphone's UK iPhone deal could be carried over to the US, where it might pull visitors away from the bulk of Apple's retail stores.