Circuit City CEO Phil Schoonover addressed the CTAM Summit on Wednesday and suggested the future of the triple play should include retail. Circuit City has already launched a few concept stores, one in partnership with Comcast, where triple play services are marketed along with HDTVs and other electronics. Schoonover even suggested that triple play providers should consider getting out of the installation business, and rely on their retail partners like Circuit City, most of whom have launched technology consulting and installation services for end customers – firedog in Circuit City’s case.
Schoonover had some interesting points, albeit some of which were self serving. He outlined a sales transaction where a customer comes in to by a TV, and by the time they leave, has been sold triple play service along with the TV and the installation of everything. Certainly a nice picture for Circuit City, but will consumers embrace such a practice. If they ultimately do, it may provide cable (and maybe DBS) an advantage. Triple play operators that utilize IPTV will be competitively disadvantaged, primarily because they are unable to implement retail set top box strategies at stores other than their own – at least for the time being. The CableCARD mandate by the FCC, which facilitates retail distribution of cable set top boxes, may ultimately work to cable’s advantage. If Schoonover vision becomes reality, we may soon see rapid growth of jointly branded Comcast/Cox/Time Warner and Circuit City retail stores, providing a digital smorgasbord of products and services, all of which can be purchased, activated, and installation arranged for on a single visit.