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Best Buy Announces Retail Exclusivity with HTC Thunderbolt, Forgets Launch Date

Well we’re getting closer to an official launch for the HTC Thunderbolt.  Best Buy just announced that they are the exclusive retail partner for the device, but forgot to mention the most important thing…an actual date.  They did toss out a “launch in mid-February” note, but that’s not making anyone who already put down $50 on a pre-order any happier.

Note:  After reading the comments, I should probably clarify what “exclusive” means in this situation.  This doesn’t mean that Verizon won’t be selling it, it just means that you likely won’t see the phone in Radio Shack or Walmart.  All Verizon stores will still be selling it like crazy.

Your turn Verizon!  BBY presser after the break.  

Best Buy® Announces National Retail Exclusive and Pre-Sale Availability of the HTC ThunderBolt
HTC ThunderBolt is the nation’s first 4G LTE smart phone

MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 7, 2011 – Best Buy today announced the immediate pre-sale availability of the HTC ThunderBolt at Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile standalone stores nationwide. The HTC ThunderBolt, which will launch in mid-February as a national retail exclusive for Best Buy, is the first smart phone on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.

“The HTC ThunderBolt is a groundbreaking smart phone and Best Buy couldn’t think of a better way to kick off 2011 than by offering it as a national retail exclusive to our customers,” said Scott Anderson, head of merchandising for Best Buy Mobile. “We have worked hard to provide our customers with a great selection of smart phones which now includes the HTC ThunderBolt, both versions of the iPhone 4, Samsung Nexus S, HTC EVO™ 4G and many more options.”

The HTC ThunderBolt offers a rich web browsing experience and the ability for users to easily generate and share their own video experiences. Other key features of the HTC ThunderBolt include the ability to:

  • Download a song in less than 4 seconds
  • Download 20 photos in a minute
  • Stream TV shows from your computer

Best Buy Mobile offers an array of services aimed at improving customers’ experience, including Walk Out Working, Upgrade Checker, Happy24, Buy Back and a full array of accessories for customers to protect and personalize their device.

About Best Buy Mobile

Best Buy Mobile was founded in 2006 with a goal of changing the way consumers shop for and purchase mobile phones in America. Today, Best Buy Mobile is in every Best Buy store and also has 158 Best Buy Mobile specialty stores around the country. Best Mobile features one of the largest selections of carriers, handsets and accessories available anywhere. Employees undergo at least 80 hours of intensive training, as well as continuing education on mobile phone technology and trends to help customers get the most of their mobile phones. For more information about Best Buy Mobile, visit www.bestbuy.com/mobile or www.bestbuymobile.com.

About Best Buy Co., Inc.

With operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, China, Mexico and Turkey, Best Buy is a multinational retailer of technology and entertainment products and services with a commitment to growth and innovation. The Best Buy family of brands and partnerships collectively generates more than $49 billion in annual revenue and includes brands such as Best Buy; Best Buy Mobile; Audiovisions; The Carphone Warehouse; Future Shop; Geek Squad, Jiangsu Five Star; Magnolia Audio Video; Napster; Pacific Sales; and The Phone House. Approximately 180,000 employees apply their talents to help bring the benefits of these brands to life for customers through retail locations, multiple call centers and Web sites, in-home solutions, product delivery and activities in our communities. Community partnership is central to the way Best Buy does business. In fiscal 2010, Best Buy donated a combined $25.2 million to improve the vitality of the communities where their employees and customers live and work. For more information about Best Buy, visit www.bestbuy.com.

  • Fog

    So basically we only have BB’s word that they have the exclusive?

  • Fog

    So basically we only have BB’s word that they have the exclusive?

  • Fog

    So basically we only have BB’s word that they have the exclusive?

  • Fog

    So basically we only have BB’s word that they have the exclusive?

  • Fog

    So basically we only have BB’s word that they have the exclusive?

  • Fog

    So basically we only have BB’s word that they have the exclusive?

  • Fog

    So basically we only have BB’s word that they have the exclusive?

  • Fog

    So basically we only have BB’s word that they have the exclusive?

  • Fog

    So basically we only have BB’s word that they have the exclusive?

  • Fog

    So basically we only have BB’s word that they have the exclusive?

  • Fog

    So basically we only have BB’s word that they have the exclusive?

  • Fog

    So basically we only have BB’s word that they have the exclusive?

  • Fog

    So basically we only have BB’s word that they have the exclusive?

  • Fog

    So basically we only have BB’s word that they have the exclusive?

  • Fog

    So basically we only have BB’s word that they have the exclusive?

  • Fog

    So basically we only have BB’s word that they have the exclusive?

  • Flexor

    I just called to BBY stores here in Arizona. They said that its been delayed and will be at least Feb. 28th. till its released. conveniently outside the buy back promotion of the 26th. Ive been eligabke for upgrade since march holding out for a suppose Fat Blackberry release. That went south sold my storm 2 and got a DI. Been following this phone since it was the mystery device. Getting close to a year following this phone. Seeing the Incredible S now and etc, HTC handsets to be forth coming, i am in agreeance and a dual core model release is soon. Get in it for two years or wait. I was at BBY door when they opened on the 6th. to get my preorder. Now starting to get frustrated its coming its not its coming its not. I know i want it, the price tag may ruin that. Possibly VZW will sell less?

  • Danford884

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004M5HB6U… This can only be good news right?

  • Glamtek

    I wish VZW would hurry up and let us know. My original Droid has been acting up for months! I want this phone so bad I can taste it!

  • Djstormx

    I don’t know if I should wait for VZ stores to get this or go ahead and put down a $50 at BB? What you guys think? I really want this phone but dunno whose gonna get it first?

  • Hoot352

    The thunderbolt seems really cool. Some people say their waiting for the Bionic to come out mid summer. After looking at the Spec’s. They seemed pretty comparable. Ya the Bionic has the Dual core processor but it lacks in RAM. Wouldn’t it be better to go with the Thunderbolt now and then upgrade when HTC comes out with a phone like the Pyramid for Verizon?

  • Hoot352

    The thunderbolt seems really cool. Some people say their waiting for the Bionic to come out mid summer. After looking at the Spec’s. They seemed pretty comparable. Ya the Bionic has the Dual core processor but it lacks in RAM. Wouldn’t it be better to go with the Thunderbolt now and then upgrade when HTC comes out with a phone like the Pyramid for Verizon?

  • jas0n

    when will verizon/bb/someone confirm a launch date? this week?

  • Nwcoulson

    Just preorderd at the best buy on broadway and houston in NYC. Sales manager told me i’d be able to pick it up on the 17th and at199.99! That was easy… Love the site

  • Anonymous

    I am getting the feeling that Veriozn is moving towards the tablet space and will go all out promoting a super marketing campaign on the Xoom. The Apple stuff is also extra money in the bank for them so don’t be surprised if the Bionic and the Thunderbolt are just plain marketing, but the Xoom will be thier new bread and butter and the i*hone 5 will also get a major marketing campaign.

  • STiK

    4G on yesterdays technology… NEXT!!!!

  • Raptor007

    I hit the BB near my office paid my $50 deposit, and picked up another gift card just to be sure my often fluid funds are set aside for the TB without issue. There was a Verizon rep in (must be the regional rep for BB) and she actually reads the tech sites, but had not heard of this one, so I clued her in. The BB mobile rep had 5 names on a sheet of paper for reservations so far but given the fact that there is no “official” date or promo and the iPwn is hogging the airwaves its not surprising.

    Still he was told the date is 2-14 but as noted it could change. Since Verizon is giving one away on 2-12 to a lucky customer at the new Verizon store in MA, can they even do that if its not “officially” approved by the FCC? They aren’t getting a come back later receipt they are getting the phone.

  • Anonymous

    OK IS THIS BS OR IS IT ME? I went online to bb mobile online chat…supposedly its a real person… lol….they say i can’t reserve the phone if i want to buy it outright? thats so unfair, then u just lost my buisness, ill go to vz and buy it there bb. Can anyone confirm it for me? can’t really head to bb right now.

    • That’s bull. You can absolutely reserve it if you’re buying it outright. It DOES NOT MATTER for the pre-order how you’re doing it. Hell, you don’t even have to tell them you’re buying it outright. The only stipulation there might be is when you upgrade, they might say you can only get it outright if you’re attaching it to an existing contract. That’s what we have to do with the iPhone and Blackberry Torch. And yes, I do work for Best Buy Mobile. So I’m not making this up. 🙂

      • Anonymous

        ok well thanks, so do u think its still set for the 14th? like can i go pick it up or is it really delayed this time for u guys at bb?

        • Honestly, not a clue. I was just in the store and I checked our Employee News and saw nothing anywhere about the date being delayed, BUT it also did say in the original announcement that the date was subject to change. I wish I could give you a better answer, believe me. I pre-ordered the phone as well, so I’m as anxious for the release as you are!

          • Anonymous

            thanks, lol. Yah well my dx was dropped and i figured i might as well get insurance and sell it unless they gave me this, lol. Then pre=order and pick this bad boy up, lol. Got to go to my florida bb and pre-order 1 before their out. Really hoping i can pick mine up on that monday.

          • Anonymous

            oh and just 1 more question, lol. U don’t think that there might be a dock for this right? like the evo’s finally like 1 year after dock?…the charging is on the side though….but hopefully i would love to see some kind of one like my droid x, lol.

  • Anonymous

    So wait, we’re expected to pre-order a device without knowing:
    A. The release date of the device.
    B. The pricing of the data plan for required 4G.
    In my case I am up for a new every two credit and I may want to take advantage of that which will require me to buy at a VZW store (how do I know what the amount off will be?) and we don’t even know when the VZW store will carry this device.
    If Verizon isn’t going to have it until later, it’ll be worth it to get it at Best Buy just to have asap. I’m excited, but Verizon is letting me down.

    • Test

      I agree 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000% with you.

    • Anonymous

      Verizon will have it first day. Which will be February 14th, some have heard 11th, but plan for the 14th

    • Dansmailis

      You can use your NE2 at Best Buy.

  • EvilMonkey

    I HTC sense a date or price announcement coming up maybe tomorrow.

  • guest

    It’s expected in our Best Buy stores 2-14-11 according to the system. $249.99 for 2 year. $599 retail

    • Anonymous

      CAN I RESERVE IT FOR THE 599?

  • Disciple

    Is Best Buy likely to sell the phone for the same price as a Verizon store? The free buy-back program is enticing, but not if I could get the phone for $40 less at a VZW store.

    • Hoot352

      I’m debating myself where the best place is to get the phone. At a verizon store or best buy. Some verizon store throw in free accessories as well. That buy back program is tempting though to go through best buy.

  • Kevoskee
  • Greg

    Yeah… Apple has verizon real “shut lipped” until after Thursday. We’ll get a release date on Friday morning after the iphone news coverage all Thursday. Really messed up how Verizon is bending over and touching their ankles for an iphone. But… discruntled Verizon blackberry users insist…

    • Verizon doesn’t care about iOS vs Android, they care about $. According to the report i saw today it was estimated they sold 500,000 iPhones in 2 hours between 3am and 5am. Regardless of how you feel about Apple that is very impressive. Verizon would bend over and touch their ankles for anybody who could offer those types of numbers.

      • Anonymous

        Okay, we get it Ron…

        • You must be outraged that the Xoom does not have a removable battery.

  • Viper76269

    lol people. retail exclisivity as far as pre-orders go. chill out. it will be in verizon stores too.

  • Muddy B00ts

    I’m sorry if my ignorance is showing, but is there any news on 4g data pricing?

    • DMBatCOFC

      Nothing has been released/confirmed by Verizon yet… Speculations are flying though.

    • Greg

      In 37 different languages…..No.

  • DMBatCOFC

    BIONIC

  • Kevoskee

    Now I feel a lot better about my pre order.

  • Bo

    Kellex rules! This is the only site staying on top of this important matter. Worst. Launch. Ever.

    • EvilMonkey

      I feel like “Worst.Launch.Ever” bears repeating; Worst Launch Ever! damn you iclone

  • MG

    I love HTC but the Thunderbolt is sooo last year. This will be great for my wife but not me. I’ll be waiting for the next HTC on verizon that is similar or better than AT&T’s Atrix in features. Also, no more two year contracts for me, I will buy outright if I have to.

    • Greg

      How can the Thunderbolt be so last year? Cause of the Evo? Last I checked.. Verizon doesnt have the Evo. Thus… This is the now.

      • MG

        Ok, let me rephrase this. The Thunderbolt is 2010’s premier technology and 2011’s mid level technology. I’m not saying it is a bad device but for somebody, like most of us on these sites, want the latest and greatest technology which this is not. This could be part of the reason it isn’t being given the “DROID” Branding. The only real thing making this a high end phone in 2011 is the fact that it is LTE Cablable. It still has good specs but in MY OPINION, not specs that go along with a high end phone in 2011. Oh, and thanks for the heads up, I didn’t realize the Evo wasn’t on Verizon, glad I didn’t buy one only to find out it didn’t work for me on Verizon.

  • Anonymous

    Damn. I want to upgrade to a one year contract. This isn’t going to fly for me.

  • Bo

    So does this mean VZW stores won’t have this device???

    • Seedster

      I would like to know this as well.

      • Amp8587

        Probably going to be the only 3rd party. HTC will not provide to Amazon, etc.

    • Anonymous

      All VZW stores will have it. This just means that places like Radio Shack and Walmart won’t.

      • brett

        What about the verizon retailers who sell only verizon stuff? I went in to one today to ask about the thunderbolt and I dont think the lady there knew anything about the phone. She said they might not get it at launch depending on how it compares to their other phones. w/e that means…
        I hope the small verizon retailers get it because best buy and real verizon are both 45 minutes away from me.

  • When I pre-ordered my TB Best Buy was unable to give me a date. The BB Mobile guy said that he was hearing the 14th ( this was at noon today, before the announcement ) he also gave me a price of $199.99. Although he was unable to produce any documentation specifically stating it. He also was very adamant about only being able to renew on a 2 year contract, although there was clearly listed 1 year contract pricing for VZW phones on his Internal excel sheet.

    • Greg

      I feel for you. Blindly gave up money without any putout. You could’ve waited.

      • The put out comes when I get one on launch day, and get the free Buy back.

  • Anonymous

    If anything I would think that Best Buy exclusivity will hurt sales. With Verizon’s recent policy changes (no annual upgrades, and no NE2), I wouldn’t sign anything but a 1 year agreement anymore, and Best Buy won’t let you do anything but 2 years.

    • Anonymous

      i agree. no more 2 year contracts for me ever again. BB really only let’s you sign up for a 2 yr agreement?? that’s horse poop.

      • Greg

        Yeah.. The Thunderbolt should hold me over until 2012 when my contract expires with verizon. I’m buying out in cash, then signing one year contracts..

        • Mike

          Do the buyback program and then you can turn in the Thunderbolt for money towards a new phone without signing a new contract. I’m thinking about doing this.

          • I have not read all the fine print but i think they give you 50% of what you paid for it. So if that is 50% of the $249 you are better off selling the phone on eBay.

          • Scknoll123

            its 50% of the orig. price not what you bought it for. within the first 6 months.

          • Motta2003

            50% of MSRP which I think is $500 or 600. Could be good depending if you use it in the 6 month period.

          • Anonymous

            Based off the full retail price, it’s 40% between 6 and 12 months and 30% between 12 and 18 months after the purchase date.

          • scadole

            50% of the RETAIL price. Not what you paid.

          • It’s actually 50% back of the retail of the phone, but that’s only for the first 6 months. After that it’s 40% up to 12 months, then 30% up to 18 month, and finally 20% up to the 24 month mark.

            Also – I was in talking to my local best buy, and they won’t/can’t do early upgrades. But I guess if you use the buy back to buy a new phone at retail, that doesn’t really matter.

            My real question is that the buy back program is free right now, how much is it going to cost when that is over?

          • That’s correct–50% up to 6 months, goes down 10% every 6 months after that.

            & it’s true, we (Best Buy Mobile) aren’t allowed to do 1 year upgrade — sucks, but not something we have control over. It’s just not in our contract with Verizon. :/

            Buy back costs $60 with a phone, or $30 if you get it with the protection plan (which you should).

          • Indypb

            The clerk told me it was 50% of retail price, not what I paid. So assuming retail is $599, getting $300 bucks back isn’t terrible…..

            At least for 6 months, anyway, then it drops to 40% I think?

          • Wendy

            That’s what I’m doing. Pre-ordered a Thunderbolt Sunday at Best Buy.

        • Kortneeann

          Buyback is free this month for mobile at Best Buy so make sure they put it on your phone!!

      • Enriquemtz2006

        just buy it at BB with Buy Back plan and get the newest phone there is in 6 months…

        • Frencha

          If you do that you have to buy a 2 year contract. Better to just wait go with a 1 yr contract @ Verizon when the BIONIC comes out.

          • Hoot352

            Lookin at specs, do you think the Bionic would be worth upgrading to when it comes out. It’s got the dual core processor but the Ram is lacking for the dual core. I was debating back and forth which phone I’d want to go with. They seem pretty comparable though. An upgrade would be in order when HTC comes out with a phone like the pyramid for Verizon.

          • Hoot352

            Lookin at specs, do you think the Bionic would be worth upgrading to when it comes out. It’s got the dual core processor but the Ram is lacking for the dual core. I was debating back and forth which phone I’d want to go with. They seem pretty comparable though. An upgrade would be in order when HTC comes out with a phone like the pyramid for Verizon.

    • Anonymous

      Still haven’t gotten clarity on the “no more New Every Two” thing.
      Does this mean we will be expected to pay full retail pricing for devices when signing a new two year contract? Or does this mean we won’t get some random amount off like we have in the past?
      Also, I have always transferred my dad and sister’s new every two credits to myself in the past, as they never use them. Will I still be able to do this? someone elaborate in dummy terms for me please! lol

      • DBK

        The NE2 is the credit you get for a phone (the “random amount off” as you put it). That’s been done away with (unless you renewed your contract before Jan16th, in which case you get one more).

        You should be able to transfer them, but only one last time. Hope that helped.

        • Anonymous

          Example: Thunderbolt is $599.00 full retail, but $249.00 if you are signing a 2-year contract. Obviously we are getting the phone discounted for re-upping our contract. So the NE2 was a little bonus of $50.00 to $100.00 back on rebat (am i correct there?) <–and I know we won't be getting that anymore.
          The real question is, will I still have the option to transfer the ability to not pay full retail when re-signing, from my dad or sister's line (I am the primary line) just as I have done in the past. (It gives me pricing but extends their contract 2 years, which has been done very simply at the vz store when I first got my droid and then droid x)

          • DBK

            You got it.

            You still get your discount, and should be able to transfer the other two NE2’s (but it would be your last time).

            Did that help?

          • Anonymous

            But down the road, will I still be able to transfer their subsidized pricing?

      • scadole

        it means that when you upgrade you still get subsidized pricing, just no extra off of that. Ex. Full retail of Incredible: $599 Subsidized: $200 NE2: $100.

        Smell what i’m cookin? They are still subsidizing phones for contracts, just 86ing the NE2 discount on top.

    • scadole

      Best Buy is doing the buy back thingy which means you basically upgrade your device at retail cost.

  • Andrew Hewitt

    Can’t wait til these things get all over craigs list! ;]

  • Andrew Hewitt

    Can’t wait til these things get all over craigs list! ;]

  • Anonymous

    It sounds to me like Apple has VZW by the short hairs when comes to announcing anything other than the 4 non-LTE phone.

    When I saw VZW’s Super Bowl ad, I wished I had Gorilla glass on my TV.

    • DBK

      F***ing Schmi Schmone…….

    • Anonymous

      Yea. I’m pretty sure that ad space was originally made for the Thunderbolt. They aren’t even going to sell the device at launch, most likely to a focus towards the iPhone, which is sad. I did not realize Steve Jobs ran Verizon.

      • Anonymous

        He may now. 😛

      • All these people jumping on the *Phone ship is irritating me. Not smart, even if it’s your phone of choice, when a new one is coming out so soon.

        • DBK

          It’s i*hone…get it right. 🙂

      • If you had the potential to bring Verizon a million new customers they might let you run it for a couple days.

    • Motta2003

      I agree with you. I think to get the iPhone VZ had to cave in to some demands of Apple. That being said, I think the whole BestBuy exclusive is a bit of a loop hole that VZ is using to get the Thunderbolt out…maybe a pre-launch if you will. Then they will back the Thunderbolt with their typical marketing campaign. After all it is their first 4G phone…they won’t let that opportunity pass them by.

  • Doug

    Crap! Looks like I’m waiting on the Bionic. No way I’m locking into a 2-year deal…

  • Anonymous

    Seriously, the hardware on this device is H-O-T, and the unlocked bootloader makes it even more attractive. But why can’t it have the qHD screen and Tegra2 processor like the Bionic?

    That said, this is still the better choice because of that unlocked bootloader. Thats the key feature when you want dev / rom community support.

    • I’ve been waiting to see the ROM size, not just the RAM size. I install lots of apps and run out of room frequently with my DInc…

      • Anonymous

        That’s exactly why I install all unimportant apps on SD card

        • I do that as well, but still run into that problem. Pocket Legends kills my phone every time too… Even after I move it to SD.

      • Anonymous

        The ROM size will be the 8gb, just as it is/was with the Droid X

  • fartbubbler

    not first.

  • That thumb looks a little ghastly… No offense to the owner of that thumb. If you’re taking a picture of something in your hand, you should keep in mind that the rest of your hand is in there too…

    • Anonymous

      What, you think your poop don’t stink?

  • Fredy

    Mid Feb. is just around the corner

  • Jiloebel

    first! i want it now!