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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Retailing Optimal Mobile Plans

(Via BWeek)Mort Rosenthal's next venture: One-stop shops that simplify selection by offering all mobile phones and plans. The Mobile market is beginning to experiment new models of business. Buying a wireless phone plan is nearly as time-consuming and complex as shopping for a house. Most people end up visiting at least five stores - each owned by a different service provider - where they sift through a total of more than 300 plans and some 120 phones. Mort Rosenthal, sees an opportunity here - he wants to take the legwork - and complexity - out of selecting a cell phone and plan. His idea: Create a nationwide chain of one-stop retail outlets for all your wireless needs.

A new outfit modeled after apple electronics stores will sell all of US carriers’ plans and phone in one store. The plan is to roll out two to three stores in 2005, then take the business nationwide within a few years, says Rosenthal; The stores shall have three major areas.
- One, we call the "bar" area. In a bar-like setting, you can sit down and make comparisons between major carriers on a computer screen. The software is built so that no matter what question you're trying to ask, it's very easy to get an answer. "Bartenders," shall give customers phones to play with.
- Then, there's "the explorer" area, the part that will look like the Apple store - there will be three or four educational modules, about 10 feet each. One might be on wireless e-mail. It might have a BlackBerry, a Treo, and a Windows Mobile device [for you to play with] and offer comparisons on how all three of them do wireless e-mail. Those areas will change every few months. They might highlight music phones or new mobile video phones. Basically, they'll offer a glimpse of what the wireless world might look like some time from now.
- And the third area is the "learn" area. While you wait for your phone to be activated, we'll teach you how to use your phone: enter contacts, configure your e-mail, download ringtones and games. The store shall be trying to emulate attributes of many retailers: The expertise that exists in the Apple stores, the high level of service that exists at Nordstrom, and then there's Starbucks, a place where you're comfortable hanging out. Heightened competition, mass usage and a variety of services all open up new range of offerings and opportunities in this increasingly felt experience economy

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