MVNO Startup Kajeet Targets Tweens

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Bethesda, Md. — Kajeet, a self-described MVNO for tweens, expanded its distribution today with a retail rollout through more than 500 Best Buy stores and 360 Limited Too tween-clothing stores.

The startup has been selling its “totally kid-centric” kajeet phones and prepaid service on its Web site, www.kajeet.com, since February.

Promoted as the “first and only pay-as-you-go cellphone service made from a kid’s point of view,” kajeet uses the Sprint network to offer tween-oriented game and wallpaper downloads, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), picture messaging and no-contract pricing plans.

For parents and kids, kajeet offers Web-based tools for managing the use of kajeet phones and who says for what. Parents and kids, for example, can use the site to purchase additional airtime, place restrictions on who a child can call and e-mail, and limit the use of a kid’s phone to certain times of the day but always allow the child to be called by a parent.


 
The Nokia 6165i , one of four phones Kajeet is offering.

Unlike “kiddie” phones or “add-a-line” family plans, a spokesperson said, kajeet offers “multi-featured and customizable” cellphones with no contracts, activation or cancellation fees, although a 35-cents-per-day access fee is charged. Rates are 10 cents a minute for voice, 5 cents per text message, 25 cents per picture message and $6.99/month for unlimited AIM.

Age-appropriate games cost $4.99 and up and include characters from Nickelodeon shows such as “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Hey Arnold!”, and “Fairly Odd Parents.”

Kajeet currently offers four phones. One is the LG 150 with Sprint PCS Voice Command; external LCD display; Bluetooth; and a suite of games, ringers and screen savers at $49.99. The LG KG225 VGA-camera phone features color LCD screen, 40 polyphonic speakers and Java 2.0 at $69.99. The Sanyo Katana features VGA camera, speaker phone, and Bluetooth at $99.99. The Nokia 6165i is $69.99 with 1-megapixel camera. All phones use assisted GPS so they can be located by police.

The company said 5.3 million U.S. tweens (more than one in four) already own a cellphone and that the number will double in the next three years.

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