Apple will provide wireless service directly to its iPad and iPhone customers, argues consultant Whitey Bluestein. In his hypothetical scenario, Apple first will sell data packages bundled with iPads. Then it will sell data and international roaming plans to iPhone customers through the iTunes Store.
The radical notion is that, Instead of selling electronics gear, Best Buy could gradually become a supplier of instruction, service, support, connections, returns and pickup. All those things are tricky or less satisfying operations online, some argue.
In a communications service provider context, the analogy might be a shift to greater reliance on providing "big data mining" and support for third-party partners who want access to huge service provider audiences.
As Best Buy shifts to third-party services for consumer electronics manufacturers, becoming physical support locations for those partners, and de-emphasizing product sales, so telcos and mobile service providers could grow their "big data" service businesses.
Best Buy could embrace being a showroom, welcoming price-checking shoppers into the store to play with the latest electronic gadgets, then helping them buy online, even from another seller. As crazy as that might sound, Best Buy executives say they make more profit from electronics product supplier payments than from the sales of gear.
In a similar way, communications service providers might someday find they make more money from services sold to business partners than to end users. That isn't to say it would be easy. But there are precedents.
Retailers can lease space to third parties. Think Apple Stores that already are inside Best Buy. Telcos know about wholesale. It's the same concept.In that vein, a move by Apple to become an MVNO would not be so shocking.
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