Best Buy is diving into the wireless business even more today by moving beyond handset sales to offering a new back-up service and soon an app store that will compete with Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), *Microsoft*, Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and Research In Motion.
The service called mIQ allows not only customers, but anyone, to back-up their phone’s text messages, photos, contacts and other information online. As users snap photos or add a contact or calendar appointment, the item will show up within seconds on the web (or vice versa). It works on BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian Series 60 devices and is free. For Best Buy, the experience will not only make users happy, but it will make upgrading to new devices easier because all their info can be pushed from the web to their new phone, even if it is from a different manufacturer. Because Best Buy knows what phone you have, it will also be able to make smart recommendations for Bluetooth headset, other add-on products and applications in the future. mIQ launches Monday.
mIQ was built by Dashwire, a Seattle-based company Best Buy Capital invested in earlier this year. Best Buy Mobile’s Mark Mosiniak said customer service reps will install the software before the customer walks out of the store. Likewise, non-Best Buy consumers can sign up for it over the web. The service compares to Apple’s MobileMe, Microsoft’s My Phone, Nokia’s Ovi, and even RIM’s enterprise solution — except for that it works on more than one device. Mosiniak: “Best Buy Mobile stands for impartiality. No matter what they choose to buy, a service like this shouldn’t impede them from making a decision.”
As Dashwire and Best Buy continue to work on the service, they will add new features. For instance, it was Best Buy’s recommendation to allow users to go to their account online to send photos to Twitter or Facebook since that still is a confusing process for many people today. Going forward, Best Buy said it will expand beyond physical goods and also sell applications or digital content for the phone. Mosiniak: “We are looking at adding a mobile application store, where content will be featured for their device.” He said it will be a select number of applications and that they’ll source the content from a variety of aggregators or directly from the developer.