Dish Networks' CEO Charlie Egren might just have finally found something exciting that he can do with those 850 remaining brick and mortar Blockbuster stores
that remain after Dish plucked Blockbuster out of the bankruptcy pile last year. Dish plans on selling smartphones inside the remaining Blockbuster stores. The Blockbuster Mobile website already sells handsets for Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, but Egren wants to move the sales to physical locations. Egren's original plan was to sell mobile devices from the stores that would be enabled to stream Blockbuster movies. But that plan was killed off and now Dish is trying to work toward selling the phones through its Blockbuster stores and mobile service through Dish Networks. In the meantime, the stores still sell and rent DVDs and games and sell Dish Networks' services inside the stores. "Wireless will complement all of our technologies and allow us to be in more places and offer more of our services on one bill
," Egren said.
Back in October, Egren said that he will partner up with another firm to offer a mobile network that could be ready to go in the U.S. by 2016. Dish Chief Executive Officer Joe Clayton said talks with partners are on hold until the company speaks to the FCC. Dish lost a chance to partner up with a couple of major carriers when Sprint agreed to sell 70% of the carrier to Japan's Softbank
and T-Mobile announced it would purchase MetroPCS
. That would leave Verizon and AT&T remaining and we don't see either operator hooking up with Dish and the outspoken Egren. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski recently said that he would sign off on having Dish become a wireless carrier under the condition that it lower the power of its signal to prevent interference
The number of physical Blockbuster stores peaked around 2004 when Viacom owned the chain and there were about 9,000 locations. When Dish bought the chain last year it acquired 1,700 stores which it has cut in half
to the current 850. Offering smartphones in the physical stores could be a great way to attract potential Blockbuster members into the stores while making money from smartphone sales at the same time.