Wal-Martification of Mobility
Overall, 11% of handset sales in this period transpired in major retail stores, and another 11% took place through wireless operator Web sites. Their physical stores did better, accounting for 47% of sales.
I'm hardly surprised at this, but still it's sad to see this report from eMarketer that Wal-Mart has taken over the number one position in the last 6 months in terms of handset sales in retail stores. Consumers always want inexpensive or free phones, that's for sure. But Wal-Mart I'm sure is pushing it to extremes, with the cheapest phones and most basic plans. Not good for mobility in general, the mobile market or anyone in particular except maybe Chinese sweat shop owners who have deals with them.
The fact that Radio Shack is number surprises me only in that I thought they'd be number one, actually, as they have great support at their stores. I was in one the other day and the guy behind the counter was *incredibly* patient with a woman buying an iPod Shuffle in front of me. "So this is from Apple? Will it work with my computer?" Also they have continuing revenue deals with carriers, so the more people who sign up at Radio Shack, the more money they make over time. So they have this massive incentive to both promote and support mobile phone sales.
The most interesting thing is that 10% of phone sales are web based. That's pretty great. I'm sure that number can increase by quite a bit if more effort was placed in that area. But the websites need to take a Radio Shack attitude towards mobile purchases: Support, support, support, support. It's all about hand-holding and information. If websites can provide more information about the phones, how to use them, and answer questions later, they'll start selling more and more. Though I'm sure that many people still want to go and *feel* the phones before they buy them, with more hot phones like the RAZR, people will know what they want to buy, it's just letting them have a warm fuzzy about it. Amazing Amazon hasn't really taken this on... it seems right up their alley.
Anyways, check out that summary of the report, there's a couple of other informative graphs as well.