Rumor is that Gamestop will not only start accepting iOS devices for in-store trade-ins, but that the massive videogame retailer will also begin selling iPhones for the largest technology company in the world, Apple. This rumor, coming straight out from the yearly Gamestop Manager’s Convention in Las Vegas, sounds ludicrous. Not for trading in old iPods, iPads and iPhones mind you – Gamestop already has an enormous used-game sales infrastructure and iOS devices easily complement that – but for selling new iPhones.
Today, there are only three ways you can get an iPhone without purchasing it directly from Apple: through AT&T Wireless, Verizon Wireless, or Best Buy. That is, the two carriers with a total of 200 million current customers, and the largest electronics retailer nationwide. Ma’ Bell has over 2,200 retail stores, Can-you-hear-me-now has 2,300, and Big Blue has over 1,150. Even combined (5,650+) that pales in comparison to the 6,500+ retail locations that Gamestop has, selling only products involved with the burgeoning videogame industry.
Should the rumors of Apple iPhones selling through Gamestop ring true, then wireless carriers need to be on their guard. With only 345 Apple stores, the fruity mega-giant may well be planning to use Gamestop stores as more than just a point of sale for iOS devices. What that is remains to be seen, though there are several possibilities. We’ve already seen Apple step away from the major wireless carriers in several ways, including making the iPhone available for Verizon (instead of just AT&T) and possibly Sprint with the iPhone 5, and the new messaging app found on iOS 5 which supersedes any wireless carrier.
What could Apple be planning? It’s possible that Gamestop wants a piece of the app pie, and is working with Apple to not only demo games (the most profitable type of iOS app) in-store but also to sell them. Kongregate, the flash-game site and subsidiary of Gamestop, may make its way to the iPhone (sans flash, of course). Just like Gamestop points can be used to purchase items through Xbox Live, they may be made to work with the App Store as well. Gamestop could also attempt to open their own iOS marketplace through the retailer’s website, though no major company has seriously pursued selling titles outside of Apple’s App Store, even if the apps don’t meet Apple’s requirements.
Or perhaps something more cunning is taking place. Consider the number of Gamestop locations. 11,000+ Starbucks locations in the US offer free Wi-Fi to iOS users plus recently played music. The same can happen with Gamestop through their 6,500+ stores, except with games. Apple can clearly differentiate iOS with Android by suddenly making the millions of Gamestop customers obscenely aware of the iPhone’s gaming capability. Gamestop’s Gameinformer Magazine doesn’t currently cover iOS gaming outright (it doesn’t even have a dedicated section to the platform, while many other major gaming publications do), and there’s no reason it won’t the second Gamestop starts selling iPhones.
I personally believe every major move Apple makes has much deeper implications, and in this case Apple will have over 15,000 contracted retail locations available to it. With all that extra money, I can only imagine what Apple could do. And even without Steve Jobs at the helm, the now-Chairman certainly had the vision to instruct his executive staff for years to come.
Image via Gadgetspider.info, from Jesus Diaz of Gizmodo