Just when we thought that news about the HTC Thunderbolt was going to die down now that the mystery of its long-anticipated launch has been solved, word comes that Best Buy will only be offering the LTE phone at the $249.99 price until March 20 -after which it will be $299.99. While the phone has generated a lot of buzz, it's hard not to view this price hike as Best Buy shooting themselves in the foot.
In a promo post from their website, Best Buy said "The HTC ThunderBolt 4G [sic], a national retail exclusive for Best Buy, will be offered at a special launch price of $249.99 through Saturday, March 19, including all pre-orders. Beginning March 20, the price will be $299.99." Would anyone really pay $300 for the Thunderbolt? While it has aged since then, the HTC EVO 4G was, at the time of its launch, also a much-anticipated release with throngs of Android fans ready to line up - and it retailed for $200. It seems Best Buy and Verizon are trying to topple the standing $200 premium phone price point regime, but $300 might be hard to justify.
Perhaps the bigger question, however, is why would anyone pay $300 for it at BB (after the 20th) when they can simply march down the street to their local Verizon store and purchase it for the original $250? Best Buy's buyback program and warranty offerings may provide some explanation, and some consumers may find those services worthwhile. Still, it's hard to justify a $50 premium for the Best Buy "experience."
Verizon issued a press release today regarding the launch of the Thunderbolt, saying it will be "available on March 17 in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores and online at www.verizonwireless.com for $249.99 with a new two-year customer agreement." There is no word of that being a limited time only offer, or of any upcoming markups.
If Best Buy holds to their promise to charge $300 (we see no reason that they won't), they will likely lose a lot of sales to Verizon. Sure, they will sell a few overpriced ones to some unsuspecting customers, but if the upcoming hike is making you feel the pressure to buy asap, we would recommend waiting until you are ready and then perhaps taking your business to Verizon, not rushing into a panic as the folks at BB may be trying to spur you to do.
... or you could just head over to Wirefly and snag it at a lower price ($199) than either Best Buy or Verizon.
Source: Best Buy Mobile