Best Buy confirmed the launch of Best Buy Connect, a mobile broadband service they will offer beginning July 11th. Best Buy Connect is the latest addition to Best Buy’s ‘digitally connected world’ strategy which they say offers a growing portfolio of “exclusive branded content, connections and services.” Other examples of this strategy include Geek Squad and their recently announced movie download service.
The mobile broadband service will be powered by Sprint’s 3G network, and plans will start at $29.99/month for 250 GB of data. The service will be featured on Gobi powered laptops, allowing customers to enable it at the point-of-purchase. There has been speculation that Best Buy Connect would also feature 4G service through Clearwire/Sprint, but there’s no confirmation of that yet.
“We are building on a great brand and foundation to enable people to rely on us for one-stop shopping and support for their mobile computing experience, and our customer support continues after purchase,” said Jed Stillman, vice president of Best Buy Connect. “It is a natural addition to Best Buy’s growing portfolio of private label products and services that better enable consumers to connect with the things and people they love.”
Best Buy says Best Buy Connect will differ “from traditional mobile broadband offerings by addressing some of the irritations people typically face in mobile networking.” They seem to be emphasizing service as that key differentiator. For example, they reference “Complete after-sales support that’s convenient and easy, with just one place to go whether it’s a hardware, software, service or billing problem,” as a benefit.
This will be an interesting one to watch. Providing this option at the point-of-sale will give Best Buy some inherent advantage. But Best Buy has tried the service provider route before, with their acquisition of CLEC/DSL provider Speakeasy. That experiment did not meet expectations, and Speakeasy was subsequently jettisoned from the company.
Best Buy has put much more emphasis on mobility, even opening Best Buy Mobile only stores. This latest offer fits in with that growing mobile strategy. Will it work?