NEW YORK – New smartphone opportunities have opened up for retailers as cellphone maker Nuu Mobile expanded distribution to brick-and-mortar stores for the first time and MVNOs Rok Mobile and UVA Mobile prepare to roll out distribution through retail channels.
Rochester, Minn.-based Nuu Mobile began selling to brick-and-mortar stores for the first time with the launch of four unlocked Android phones at from $99.99 to $229.99.
through 165 Meijer stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.
The phones are also Meijer’s first unlocked phones, which will appear in the majority of Meijer’s stores, an Nuu spokesperson said.
Nuu, with headquarters in Hong Kong, started up in 2012 as a maker of unlocked phones and entered the North American market last fall. Its online retailers include Target.com, Amazon, BestBuy.com, HSN.com, eBay and Nuumobile.com.
Meijer’s Nuu phones operate on the T-Mobile and AT&T networks and are therefore compatible with service from Cricket Wireless, H20 Wireless, Lycamobile, Metro PCS, Net10 Wireless, Red Pocket Mobile, Simple Mobile and TracFone. Meijer sells SIM cards for those services, a Nuu spokesperson said.
For its part, Los Angeles-based MVNO Rok Mobile began offering service last year through its website and is targeting sales through 15,000 wireless-specialty outlets, mostly mom and pop stores, by the end of the year, a spokesperson said. The company expects to be in 10,000 outlets by the end of the summer.
The MVNO includes its own music-streaming service in the price of its wireless plan.
The company was co-founded by John Paul DeJoria, the founder of Patron Tequila and the Paul Mitchell haircare products company. The other co-founder is entrepreneur Jonathan Kendrick, founder of Rok Group, a developer of wireless-industry technology.
The no-contract provider uses the Sprint and T-Mobile networks to offer a $49.99/month plan that includes unlimited talk and text, 5GB of LTE data, and unlimited data after that at a speed of 256kbps. Users also get access to up to 20 million nationwide Wi-Fi hot spots.
The price includes the company’s ad-free Rok Music streaming service, which enables off-line listening via downloads.
Separately, San Diego-based startup MVNO UVA Mobile launched its prepaid service nationwide over its web site and plans to roll out a retail-channel program in the third quarter.
The MVNO, which uses the T-Mobile network, sells only SIM cards, opening up opportunities for retailers that sell unlocked GSM phones. The company offers Trio SIM card meeting standard, micro or nano SIM requirements.
UVA positions its no-contract service as allowing consumers to pay only for what they need and letting them add extra talk, text and data any time. Subscribers can also share their minutes and data with a second subscriber or device.