Coming to a C-Store Near You: Disposable Cell Phones

Jul 29, 2002

Hop-On, a small company based in Garden Grove, Calif., has won U.S. regulatory approval for the nationwide introduction of a no-frills recyclable phone for prepaid mobile calling, reports Reuters. The disposable cell phones are set to make their debut on U.S. convenience store shelves starting first in Southern California and then rolling out across the United States during the next three months.

Chairman and Chief Executive Peter Michaels says approval of the phones will allow Hop-On to sell its stripped-down mobile phone and 60 minutes of initial service for a $40 flat fee, through an unnamed “major CDMA” carrier. He also hopes to win the FCC’s approval for a second, less-expensive model that would be priced at $29 in 45 to 60 days, to be aimed at Europe and eventually the United States.

The company also said it is in talks with as many as 30 major retailers and other companies to distribute the phones, including convenience stores, gas station chains and big retail chains. Consumer brands, including a major beer company, are looking at licensing Hop-On phones and selling them under their own brand names as promotional items, Mr. Michaels says.

Moderator Comment: Will disposable cellphones significantly cut into the calling card market?

If they do, let’s hope that retailers are making more
penny profits. Doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to replace a small footprint
category with high profits for a category that takes up more space and produces
lower earnings. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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