Los Angeles-based wireless Internet provider FreedomPop on Tuesday launched its own phone deal, placing the HTC EVO Design handset as the phone brand for sale along with a free monthly service plan. This is a decisive step for the company and for all consumers taking a harder look at their monthly fees for smartphones.
FreedomPop essentially is stepping into the mobile phone business with its phone plus phone service offering, complete with voice and messaging communications services.
The smartphone launch program is in beta. The company intends to roll it out to more consumers if the beta proves successful, at which point the company will ramp it up. FreedomPop is using a pricing model that gives away 200 "anytime" voice minutes, 500 texts and 500 MB of data every month for free. You pay for anything additional. Heavier users will be allowed unlimited voice and unlimited texting for $10.99 per month with no contract.
The wireless Internet company is starting with a WiMAX-powered, refurbished HTC EVO Design, as its first Android handset, priced at $99. FreedomPop service runs on the Sprint network. The service will appear to the consumer as another regular mobile voice and messaging service; FreedomPop is able to provide a disruptive price system in running voice calls over data networks, keeping costs low.
CEO on a Mission
Obviously, FreedomPop's phone launch will not resonate with smartphone owners who believe their wads of cash are well spent on high-end phones with sophisticated features and conventional service plans. For other light call and light messaging users with no such next-gen prestige dreams, a $99, refurbished smartphone is difficult to ignore.
"FreedomPop's mission is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, convenient and essential communication services," said Stephen Stokols, FreedomPop's CEO and co-founder. "With this launch, we've just taken our largest step to date towards delivering on this objective."
Industry watchers are not ignoring the fact that, as of Tuesday, Stokols will be letting traditional telecom carriers know there is a company out there offering no-contract phones at $99 with a free service package for those who are not heavy users.
"The historically staid mobile operator industry is not only ripe for disruption; it is being disrupted today by creative pricing and service delivery strategies," said Rich Karpinski, senior analyst with Yankee Group. He noted that consumers are not the only parties likely to respond. "Combining more economical voice over IP-over-cellular technology with emerging freemium business models such as these provides choice for customers looking for mobile service alternatives while pressuring incumbent carriers to respond as well."
Posted: 2013-10-03 @ 11:18am PT
I want one - when and where are they being introduced?