Best Buy Becomes First Independent iPhone Retailer

Minneapolis Best Buy Co. will start selling the iPhone on Sept. 7, becoming first U.S. chain to do so outside of Apple Inc.'s and AT&T Inc.'s own stores, according to a Reuters report.

The announcement expands the availability of Apple's phone to 970 full-size stores and 16 smaller Best Buy Mobile stores. It's also a coup for Best Buy, which has been upgrading its cell-phone departments.

"We had a lot of work to do, obviously, to get in a position where Apple and AT&T would feel good about Best Buy Mobile carrying it, and that's what we've done in the last 18 months," said Shawn Score, president of Best Buy Mobile.

Best Buy also resells Apple's Mac computers and iPod media players. Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said the long-standing relationship between the companies was the reason Best Buy would now be able to sell the iPhone.

Last week, Best Buy announced it had completed a two-year conversion of its stores to include upgraded cell-phone departments under the Best Buy Mobile brand. It has upgraded its computer systems to handle cell-phone activation and spent 250,000 hours training its employees.

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