BlackBerry opened its first retail store, in partnership with Wireless Giant, a Michigan based wireless retailer. The store, located in suburban Detroit, will sell BlackBerry phones, accessories, and wireless subscriptions to all major carriers. It’s a first for BlackBerry, who joins other wireless device makers with retail experiments, including Nokia. Retail of wireless devices, independent of the underlying carrier, also is happening with Apple’s iPhone. These are leading indicators of what will be commonplace in the wireless industry’s future – “carrierless” retail sales of devices
As open networks grow, where customers can bring their own device, expect to see an explosion in wireless device availability, including stand alone branded stores. Wireless devices will soon be available for purchase in much the same way we buy other consumer electronic devices today, including PCs and televisions. It remains to be seen how this shift in buying behavior will affect wireless carrier business models and their competitive positioning. Devices are heavily subsidized today, but in an open world, subsidies will surely decline. Apple proved that consumers will pay full price for the right wireless device.