Best Buy gearing up for holiday wireless blitz

Retailer Best Buy is making wireless a centerpiece of its upcoming holiday sales strategy. The company said it plans to focus on a "connected world" agenda that includes selling mobile phones, tablet computers and its own branded wireless broadband service.

The spearhead of Best Buy's efforts centers on its new Free Phone Fridays promotion, beginning Oct. 1. As part of that promotion, Best Buy will feature four free mobile phones (one from each carrier) in all Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile specialty stores as well as online. Each promotional phone will require a new two-year activation. Every week the promotion will include at least one popular, high-end smartphone; for example, the Oct. 1 promotion will include the Samsung Fascinate (for Verizon), the BlackBerry Curve (for Sprint), the HTC Aria (for AT&T) and the Samsung Gravity 3 (for T-Mobile USA).

To handle the expected holiday rush, Best Buy said it plans to hire 29,000 seasonal employees. Further, to boost the firm's smartphone business, Best Buy will open 44 to 50 new mobile locations in various U.S. cities.

The actions follow the introduction in July of the retailer's Best Buy Connect service, which provides wireless broadband service to Gobi-enabled laptops and netbooks sold at Best Buy's U.S. stores. The service uses Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) 3G EV-DO network. In addition, Best Buy is a wholesale partner for Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) 4G mobile WiMAX network.

And Best Buy's efforts will stretch into next year as well. The retailer plans to carry Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) new BlackBerry PlayBook tablet when it launches next year. The gadget will compete with other tablets such as the iPad.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Twin Cities Business article
- see this release

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