Best Buy Jumps into the VoIP Services Market - InformationWeek

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9/20/2007
06:05 AM
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Best Buy Jumps into the VoIP Services Market

Looking for a good deal on your companys voice services? If so this time, you may want to check out Best Buy as well as the usual suspects, like your local telco.

Looking for a good deal on your companys voice services? If so this time, you may want to check out Best Buy as well as the usual suspects, like your local telco.Best Buy has established a subsidiary, Best Buy for Business, whose goal is to the meet the IT needs of medium and small businesses. The new company has piggybacked on Best Buys expertise in delivering items, such as PCs, laptops, and software, and offers technical service through the companys Geek Squad. This week Best Buy for Business announced a wireless Voice over IP (VoIP) service, dubbed EasyVoice. The service features a variety of options ranging in price from $19.95 to $29.95 per employee, with the top end package offering unlimited long distance calling.

Focusing on the small business market seems like a natural progression for Best Buy, which has built its business by delivering high tech products, such as computers, cell phones, and MP3 players. The business market offers the company the potential to skirt the cut throat pricing pressures rampant in the consumer market. The move into VoIP services stemmed from a $97 million purchase in May of Speakeasy, a Seattle, Wash. telecommunications service provider.

But the move into the medium and small business market also poses some potential challenges for the new company. Corporations require a higher level of service than consumers, who expect to have to troubleshoot systems themselves. Best Buy will have to find a way to differentiate itself from the plethora of other resellers already catering to medium and small business market. Whether or not the company can serve two masters is also unclear.

My own experiences have been mixed after purchasing a PC from the company. When I was trying to buy a computer, it was difficult to find anyone who could answer my questions. I have had to bring the system in to the companys Geek Squad a couple of times. The technicians did supply me with quick, accurate information, but the time required for seemingly simple tasks, such as running a virus scan, was days, something that will not fly with businesses. The question that soon will be answered is: Will businesses find the Best Buy logo a turn-on or a turn off?

Are you surprised that Best Buy is getting into the small business market? What is your perception of the company? Would you buy PC products and telcom services from the retailer or stick with another reseller?

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