MVNOs, or mobile virtual network operators, aren’t anything new. They’ve been around for quite some time now. They are a strange thing, though, in that they can pop up unexpectedly, without any kind of warning, and disappear in the same fashion. Some make a bang, and others barely resonate even a whisper. Some come, but most go. So, which way will the newest member of the MVNO line-up end up?
If you didn’t hear, GameStop is the newest addition. Yep. GameStop Mobile is a real thing. I know, I know, it’s pretty unbelievable, right? It really did come out of nowhere, and maybe that’s a good thing. Either way, GameStop has now entered into the cellular arena, and they’re bringing the “bring-your-own-device” strategy along for the ride.
It works like this: you have a GSM-based, unlocked device, or even an unlocked AT&T handset, and you buy a GameStop Mobile SIM card. Boom. You’re up and running. You’ll have to pick a plan, of course, but they’re all pre-paid. The plans start at $35 a month, and that nets you unlimited talk and text. However, you’ll still have to pay 30 cents for every megabyte of data you use.
The top of the line is $55 per month, and that gives you the same unlimited talk and text options, while bumping your data allowance to 500MB per month. You won’t ever see 1GB of data per month unless you’ve got yourself a data-only device, and you’re willing to drop $55 per month.
Basically, this is where the problem with GameStop Mobile is. It’s right there in the options. While there aren’t many, the sheer fact that the options you do have aren’t all that great speak volumes. Right now, one of the most popular MVNOs is Boost Mobile, and they’ve got plans that start at $50 per month, and offer unlimited talk, text, web, IM and email, along with 411 calls.
As for anything that has options, the only time it matters is when the options are good enough to actually compete. I would imagine that GameStop Mobile believes that their “bring-your-own-device” strategy is one of the things that will attract people to it, but that just doesn’t make much sense to me. After all, even if you bring your own device, you still had to pay for it at some point. Unless it was a gift, of course.
As a new customer, though, you’ll still have to get a phone. The most expensive smartphone under Boost Mobile’s banner is the LG Marquee, and it would run a new customer a total of $249.99. If you wanted to bring over a Lumia 900 by Nokia from AT&T? That’d be $449.99 without a contract. Or, how about the much-desired Galaxy Note by Samsung? $599.99.
It’s great that GameStop believes they have some room to enter into the cellular arena. Honestly, I don’t think anyone can fault GameStop for giving it a shot. But, I can’t sit here and say that I think they’re giving it 100 percent. What is the point of offering up a new service, if the new service doesn’t have competitive prices/features to what’s already out there? So your MVNO runs on the AT&T network? That’s probably fine for some people out there, but I still don’t think that’s enough to warrant a tidal wave of new customers.
As Alex pointed out in the original news article, it will be interesting to see if these plans and features will be worthwhile enough for GameStop Mobile to last.
What do you think? Is GameStop Mobile going to be competitive at all? Will it last even a year? Or has it failed before it even gets off the ground? Let me know what you think.