Step aside, Apple. AT&T has launched a massive, 10,000-square-foot retail store where it will be able to peddle the many devices that are powered by its wide-reaching mobile network.
AT&T is in a unique position among the major carrier, because it has made it a huge part of its business model to provide service for as many devices as possible.
The behind-closed-doors deals are of course never revealed, but somehow AT&T has managed to become the exclusive provider of mobile data to gadgets like Sony's Playstation Vita, and it is also the company that provides the free 3G service to connected versions of Amazon's Kindle ereader.
Even with all of that, it seems like it would be difficult to stock 10,000 square feet of floor space with products that AT&T has some sort of stake in. It could be more of a showcase than a place that is exclusively focused on commerce.
Case in point - the store has an "apps bar," which is designed to let customers find the apps that are right for them, which will in turn direct them to the correct phone.
The company really wants to prove that it is on the bleeding edge of the industry, and so everything about the new AT&T store will be high-tech. Employees will clock in with biometric fingerprint scanners, and instead of traditional cash registers, transactions will be handled on tablets.
The new store is now open, on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.