MONEY-SAVING MOMENT: Verizon is experimenting with a new wireless service sub-brand aimed at the price-sensitive consumer, marking a new attempt by the mobile provider to hit this previously untapped market.
Traditionally, both Verizon and AT&T have targeted customers with deep pockets, meaning both corporate accounts and individuals who wanted a fancy phone like the iPhone. But that narrow focus ignored people who just wanted the cheapest cell service, which left the field wide open for Wal-Mart to pick up those customers.
So now Verizon is testing out a new sub-brand called Unleashed in select areas of California and Florida. Unleashed offers unlimited calling, texting and web for $50 month with no contract.
The phones being offered through Unleashed are basic with no frills. The idea is to appeal to just the price sensitive, not those who want fancy phones. In fact, Verizon is likely praying that its customers who pay big bucks for fancy phones won’t want to trade down.
I see the whole Unleashed thing as an optimistic sign for the wireless market. As we move into the era of 2 monopoly players — if AT&T is allowed to buy T-Mobile, as it probably will be — there will still be people looking for cheap wireless service. So this is a defensive action by Verizon to try to meet the needs of those customers.
If Unleashed becomes available for a wider rollout, I’ll be sure to let you know.