Buried in yesterday’s rush to close out CTIA alongside Nokia’s about face regarding the 808 PureView and N9, Tracfone parent company America Movil had announced that it had completely purchased the T-Mobile exclusive MVNO in a cash deal, which also saw it purchase the 30% stake owned by the struggling carrier.
With this development, the purchase would allow America Movil to better position itself as the alternative to postpaid contracts and even lead to offering additional services such as rolling out full support for RIM’s BlackBerry, since Simple Mobile was one of the few MVNOs to own a license to fully support BlackBerry devices via BIS, while other virtual operators are either at the mercy of RIMs typically prohibitive license rates and thus refuse to support them or rely on backdoor licensing from carriers.
America Movil is one of the only conglomerates to not support the BlackBerry through any of its brands and recently launched its own BYOD offering in February, right as it canceled its first high-end Android smartphone in the Optimus 2X, ironically due to a disagreement with T-Mobile over rates and support. The development also signals a change in thinking regarding the virtual operator model, as Simple Mobile did not offer its own branded device lineup like many virtual operators do, and instead focused on selling service only with multiple service plans at varied rates dependent on levels of data access and speeds.
While this sales model works for enthusiasts that typically buy their phones at full price, the model has yet to catch on a wider scale with general consumers in the US , as many are more comfortable with buying bundled service instead of buying phones for full price and performing configuration by themselves. With the purchase of Simple Mobile, America Movil intends to consolidate its position as the prepaid service destination outside of brands and services offered by major carriers. Currently America Movil’s brands offer two levels of unlimited service at $45 and $60 with international calls and one $30 rate with unlimited voice and SMS messaging with limited data access.
Many in the industry also believe that it could also lead to further support for the iPhone outside of what has already been done with America Movil’s own BYOD program via Net10 and StraightTalk, which already features support for full-size and microSIMs compatible with all generations of iPhone, while many are also remarking that Simple Mobile’s BlackBerry support is the next major addition to America Movil’s portfolio after it launches its first Verizon-powered smartphone in the Samsung Galaxy Proclaim later this month.
At the present time, it is not known how America Movil will handle integration of Simple Mobile into its existing structure, as no executives are making themselves available to comment on the deal. Financial details of the transaction were also not disclosed, as is common with such purchases. A request for comment has been sent to Simple Mobile and will be posted if/when one is received.