Leap Motion Teams Up With Best Buy As Exclusive Retail Launch Partner, Pre-Orders Start In February

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Leap Motion, makers of the innovative Leap Motion controller for PCs, today announced that at launch, it will sell its device exclusively through Best Buy’s physical and online stores in the U.S., as the only other sales channel for the device besides its own website. Leap Motion will also be available soon for pre-order from Best Buy beginning in February, and will come to Europe and other world markets through other partners not yet announced.

I spoke with Leap Motion President and COO Andy Miller about the arrangement, and asked him why Best Buy represented a good fit for the hardware startup. Miller said that Best Buy had been very excited at the prospect of selling Leap’s controller, which can track a computer user’s movements with a high degree of accuracy and no lag time.

“They had been following our progress, and they invited us up to Minneapolis and they got their hands on the Leap Motion, and they decided that this was for them,” he said. “They’re a pretty forward-thinking company and we love the way they can tell the story. It’s really about partnering with someone who has the training to show off to potential customers what we can do.”

Miller added that for Best Buy, the value is in helping the company to show its consumers that it is still on the cutting edge, and capable of bringing them the latest in consumer interaction design. Leap Motion will be working with Best Buy to craft in-store end cap displays, which will feature the controller and games and apps selected by both the retailer and the hardware maker specifically to show off the device’s capabilities. The fact that this deal makes for a great software showcase was also at the forefront of Leap’s decision-making in going with Best Buy as a launch partner.

“It’s not just a startup with a website where we’ve been fortunate to have a lot of interest; now, people will be able to see the apps they build for the Leap platform in stores all across the U.S.,” he said. “There’s going to be a huge audience for developers here. Developers have a choice about where they spend their time and money, and we’re trying to make a strong case for why they should do it at Leap.”

Another launch-time move from Leap is its recently announced partnership with Asus to ship the controller with new PCs in 2013. That, too, is a way for the company to prove to potential developers that far from being vaporware or a niche product, this is intended as a mass market device, and will have all the distribution efforts that kind of project implies. The Best Buy partnership is also a key ingredient for getting Leap Motion somewhere where users can actually try before they buy, which is absolutely crucial for this kind of device coming new to market without the power of a big brand like Microsoft or Sony.

The Best Buy arrangement is a limited time exclusive, and Miller said Leap fully intends to offer the controller through other retailers as well in the future. Pre-orders for those who signed up via Leap’s website are expected to ship out sometime later this quarter.