What makes him powerful: Best Buy has expanded its presence in the wireless market this year and has proven that it's possible to be a big box retailer and still offer consumers a superior customer experience. This is largely thanks to the bold vision of Brian Dunn.
Central to Best Buy's pre-eminence in mobile retailing is Dunn's emphasis on making Best Buy the center of a "connected world" strategy. It also doesn't hurt that the company will likely wind up with more than $51 billion in sales this year.
Dunn has been aggressive in pushing Best Buy to expand the number of its standalone Best Buy Mobile stores, adding another 75 to 100 this year alone and proposing to add hundreds more in the years ahead.
In addition to pushing a variety of mobile devices--from smartphones to netbooks and tablets--Dunn also distinguished Best Buy this year by creating the company's own mobile broadband MVNO, Best Buy Connect. The company started reselling 3G data service on Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) EV-DO network and will expand to Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network next year. Not only does the service give the company an advantage over other retailers (Wal-Mart's Family Mobile service notwithstanding), but it strengthens Best Buy's relationship with carriers and increases brand awareness and loyalty among consumers.
In a world where the mobile retailing model is in flux, and it's open question of which market segment--carrier-owned retail stores or third-party retailers--controls the most influence, Best Buy has emerged as one of the hottest places for device makers to expand retail distribution. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) expanded iPad sales at Best Buy first, and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) plans to push its PlayBook tablet at the retailer.
Although Dunn has had to fend off growing competition from Wal-Mart, as well as a partnership between Target and RadioShack, Best Buy appears poised for another strong holiday blitz. --Phil