RadioShack No Contract Wireless
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RadioShack No Contract Wireless


The RadioShack No Contract Wireless brand is an interesting topic in the world of prepaid wireless!  This new program launched on September 5th 2012.  I don't typically write dedicated pages for specific brands, whether or not they are large or small.  To get a dedicated page, the company or brand must be particularly unique in the industry, or offer some interesting discussion.  In the case of RadioShack's new prepaid wireless brand, it's running its program as an MVNO of Cricket.  However, unlike a classic MVNO, it's actually using the "powered by Cricket" branding.
This branding is somewhat unique, or shall I say odd.  If it feels that the RadioShack brand is powerful enough in consumers' minds that it can be successful selling no contract wireless, why not simply use it's own brand?  It see that the answer is twofold.  First, RadioShack wanted to leverage the brand value that Cricket has as one of the founders of unlimited prepaid wireless and prepaid broadband.  Second, in order for Cricket to gain value from the relationship, partnering with RadioShack as a major national retailer certainly adds some level of credibility to Cricket who has been struggling to crack the national retail market.  In order to do that, it needed a clear associated with this new program.
Why Choose Cricket?
It's interesting that in order to achieve nationwide cellular coverage, Cricket is actually itself an MVNO of Sprint.  So to host RadioShack's new brand under Cricket is someone odd to say the least.  Why wouldn't RadioShack partner with a truly nationwide carrier?  As I contemplated this peculiar situation, I did some digging with my contacts in the prepaid space.  Interestingly, rumor has it that RadioShack went with Cricket because no one else wanted to do it!

The reality is that launching, managing, and operating an MVNO is extremely expensive, complex, and always far more challenging than people ever believe it will be.  That said, people with experience will know this and immediately determine that working with RadioShack in this manner would be distracting to their core business.  As noted, desperate to penetrate the retail space, Cricket had a unique, despite it being a misguided, motivation to improve its position there.
I think the obvious question is why not simply work directly with Sprint, which has an entire infrastructure to support the launch and operations of MVNOs on its network, including dozens of successful MVNO launches?  Note that I'm using "successful" very loosely here.  Regardless, Sprint has the know-how to do these kinds of programs, and are far more qualified than Cricket to support it.  Perhaps it was a cost issue, or some other logistic or political circumstances.  When I gain more insight into the specifics there I will certainly update this page!

Does The Industry Need A New Prepaid Brand?
Oh my goodness, another prepaid wireless brand; yuck!  RadioShack is already very successful at selling wireless products, both no contract and postpaid contract plans.  In addition, there are plenty of prepaid brands that they don't currently sell that they could add to their arsenal.  Will they really sell more product using their own brand?  Whether or not that's the case, the market certainly doesn't need it!

Their offers at launch for their RadioShack No Contract Wireless program have slightly better pricing than the corresponding Cricket plans, however, in terms of real value, it's simply not there.  What does the RadioShack brand bring to customers that transcends pricing?  What's their unique value proposition or core competency that customers can benefit from?  The fact is that these elements are lacking.  Overall, this new brand feels like an exercise in ego implementation.

But Choice Is Good, No?
Customers typically benefit from having more options.  However, too many options that don't have unique positioning can be overwhelming.  When that becomes the case, customers will usually stay with what they know or are familiar with.  RadioShack's prepaid wireless brand simply comes off as a Cricket product being pushed by Radio Shack; what's the point?
Maybe I'll be wrong, and this brand will take off and be a huge success.  If that happens, that would be fantastic, and would present an opportunity for massive.  I'll continue to monitor their progress to see how they do.  In the meantime, however, my skepticism hat is still on, and I'd be surprised if the brand lasts three years.  The first year is all about excitement, experimentation, and belief in success.  The second year tends to show the reality of the business model with optimism starting to break down.  It takes the third year to concede failure and to gain approval to wind down the business.  Again, I hope I'm wrong!  If you see value in the RadioShack No Contract Wireless program that I'm missing, definitely please don't hesitate to share your thoughts!

As a result of lackluster sales, RadioShack discontinued the entire program just two years following its launch.  While I don't like to see companies fail, this failure was foreshadowed from day one due to a fundamental lack of any real value proposition.  In 2015, RadioShack began closing down retail stores, and ultimately went brankrupt due to overall financial turmoil.  The fact is that they simply couldn't compete with online retailers, and never evolved to carve out any meaningful positioning in the world of brick and mortar retail.

RadioShack No Contract Wireless

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