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Paying tribute to the fallen MVNOs

We here at Prepaid Reviews have a love/hate relationship with MVNOs. We love them because they bring so many possibilities to the table. They might not be competition, per se, for the larger carriers, mostly because they feed off the big carrier networks. But they do present an alternative for cellular users. It’s too bad that so many of them were either ahead of their time, or couldn’t properly gauge the market. At Engadget Mobile, editor Ryan Block takes a walk down memory lane and talks about the dead soldiers. We’ll list ‘em after the jump, along with our library of information on them.

Amp’d Mobile — We talked about Amp’d Mobile a ton in our early days. Too bad they died a month or so in.

Disney Mobile — everyone saw it was coming before the MVNO failed. Like many 80s rock bands, though, they’re big in Japan.

Helio — We talked about Helio while they were making news. Then they were picked up by Virgin Mobile. With the deal now complete, we should start seeing the next stages soon enough.

Sonopia — Thought dead, it turns out that Sonopia has just gone on an indefinite vacation.

Voce — I actually didn’t even know it existed until I heard that Voce shut down.

XE Mobile — One of my first tasks upon joining Prepaid Reviews was to write a review of these guys. Seven months later, they went the way of the Dodo. Sad, though they absolutely lacked a viable market.

2 Responses

  1. PrepaidWirelessGuy Says

    It really is amazing when you think about it. And what I find the most interesting is some of those that are still around, like Virgin, that hasn’t turned a profit since its launch (from my understanding). I guess if you have deep enough pockets, you can keep such businesses alive, but eventually investors get tired and require radical changes. Competition is good, so I wish all of these folks well. I just hope that they can create sustainable business models while delivering the best value to customers!


    Posted on August 28th, 2008 at 6:17 pm
  2. Prepaid Freak Says

    The problem with all these MVNOs is the lack of commitment to the agents and ISOs that are putting out phones for them. Very few have the pockets to advertise like Virgin and Disney so they depend on the people on the street going door to door selling their phones to convenience stores, grocery chains, and wireless dealers. But most of time these agents actually loss money on the phone and hope to get it back on the pin/card sales. If the customer went somewhere else to refill then the agent is out of luck.
    Now a new MVNO is trying to fix it. It comes from Telrite Wireless and they have branded it Pure Prepaid. The commission follows the phone. ESN are tied to the store owner where the phone was purchased and that owner gets a residual everytime that customer refills no matter where. That is motivation to sell phones and programs like this will succeed. Much like Arrow Wireless has with its exclusive deals to protect its dealers.

    Posted on August 30th, 2008 at 9:47 pm

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