Best Buy’s US iPhone sales almost rival Apple’s own

iphones purchased by outletIf you wanted to know which company’s stores were selling more iPhones, Apple or Best Buy, the answer is Apple—but only by 2 percent. Data shows how limited Apple’s sales would be without its retail partners.

According to recent data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, retail stores have been accounting for 76 percent of the iPhone sales. The data was collected over three months, from December of last year to February 2012. All Things Digital points out that when the iPhone 4S was launched, retail stores made up 67 percent of sales. The trend seems to not be favoring online stores, as they recently accounted for 24 percent of sales, compared to period of the 4S launch when online sales accounted for 33 percent.

Breaking down the pie into the various companies, Verizon and AT&T made up 30 and 32 percent of the iPhone purchases, respectively. That’s including both their online and retail stores. Sprint had a 7 percent sliver of the pie. Best Buy made up 13 percent, just shy of Apple’s own 15 percent of iPhone sales. The hotdog ‘other’ mash-up is comprised of various Radio Shack and Walmart bits.

You don’t need a Genius Bar to see that Apple’s various deal–including Best Buy and its 1,100 stores – are integral to Apple’s distribution. CIRP’s Josh Lowitz lays it out for AllThingsD saying “ Apple Stores and the Apple Web site are tremendously productive, but they are limited by their relatively small retail footprint. There are four times as many Best Buy stores, and probably 20 times as many AT&T, Verizon and Sprint stores, so aggressive distribution through all these channels is critical to Apple’s US strategy.”

Apple’s deal with Best Buy four years ago to put in mini-shops in over 600 box stores has definitely been paying off, it’ll be interesting to see how well the Target deal does for Apple if they decide to expand it beyond the trial period.