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Kyocera To Broaden Carrier Reach

San Diego – Kyocera plans this summer to add two more models to its Hydro series of waterproof smartphones as part of a plan to expand its handset selection through national carriers that either offer a limited Kyocera selection or don’t offer Kyocera products.

The company will continue to focus on underserved niches such as midtier waterproof smartphones and messaging phones that are targeted to tweens and the elderly, a spokesman told TWICE.

The majority of Kyocera SKUs available in the U.S. in the past five years have been sold through Sprint and its prepaid brands, including Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile, the spokesman explained. Starting last year, however, Kyocera began to broaden its roster of carrier customers. In 2013, Kyocera returned to the Verizon Wireless lineup for the first time in five years with a Hydro-series smartphone. Also in 2013, Kyocera began selling a phone through T-Mobile for the first time. The T-Mobile phone, also a Hydro-series model, is also the first-ever GSM phone from Kyocera, which previously focused exclusively on CDMA phones.

Kyocera also sells Hydro phones through MetroPCS, which T-Mobile purchased in 2013 and maintains as a prepaid brand; Cricket, which AT&T acquired this year and maintains as a prepaid brand; and rural carriers. The company doesn’t currently offer phones that can be activated with AT&T-brand service.

In the summer, Kyocera plans to expand the Hydro series with two more models, one operating on CDMA networks and one on GSM networks.

“We expect to expand out T-Mobile relationship this year,” the spokesman noted.

Kyocera is also focused on reentering the Canadian market, he said.

In the U.S., Kyocera currently offers seven Hydro smartphones and four non-Hydro smartphones and feature phones through carriers.

Although companies such as Sony and Samsung have launched their own waterproof smartphones, those companies have focused on premium phones priced at more than $500 without subsidy, leaving Kyocera with room to grow in the market for midtier waterproof phones, the spokesman said.

The Hydro series Vibe LTE smartphone launched by Sprint’s Virgin prepaid brand is priced at $149 without subsidy, and the same phone offered with Sprint postpaid service and two-year contract is $29, he noted.

The Hydro Icon with LTE launched June 18 by Sprint’s Boost Mobile prepaid brand retails also retails for $149 without subsidy.

Kyocera, a $17 billion company, offers semiconductors, ceramics and other products on a B-to-B basis but offers consumer products in the copier, solar panel, cellphone and ceramic cutlery markets in the U.S. and other countries.