VoIP in cell stores- natural partnership or too competitive for comfort?

Mobile phone distributor Brightpoint has opened its first Fono Wireless store. The store, in the Indianapolis suburb of Noblesville, will not only feature cell products from such providers as Sprint Nextel and Virgin Mobile, but will offer Vonage equipment as well through Brightpoint's master agent program.

Mobile phone distributor Brightpoint has opened its first Fono Wireless store.

The store, in the Indianapolis suburb of Noblesville, will not only feature cell products from such providers as Sprint Nextel and Virgin Mobile, but will offer Vonage equipment as well through Brightpoint's master agent program.

Brightpoint says they will license this concept to retailers across the country.

So why is this news? VoIP providers realize that cellular stores - both free-standing and mall kiosks -attract traffic from customers already interested in telephony, and the more of these retail outlets they have presence in, the better. 

Keep in mind, though, that Fono Wireless operates as an agent, not as a company owned store of the type that you see in the mall and on busy downtown streets.

What's going to be real interesting though, is whether Vonage, Packet 8 and other full-service, equipment-requiring VoIP providers will be able to get into the cell service-branded stores.

Will the cellular companies be willing to talk distribution alliances, or will the coming generation of Wi-Fi enabled VoIP handsets cause cellular to view VoIP as a competitor?

What do you think?  

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