Editor’s Note: In this monthly feature, RCR Wireless News talks to retail managers across the country to get a first-hand view of what’s hot in wireless.
Wireless Toyz, which originally started as an outlet for paging back in 1995, today counts more than 190 retail locations across 22 states and carriers wireless services from the industry’s largest operators as well as regional carriers and mobile virtual network operators. The company’s president of finance and development Richard Simtob and its president and COO Gregg Kuperstein provided some insight into what the independent retailers is seeing at the ground level when it comes to wireless.
What trends do you see in device popularity?
It’s really two worlds. There continues to be a very pronounced trend toward feature-rich devices – larger screens, camera, MP3, full QWERTY keyboards, e-mail capability and personalizing colors and faceplates is also a growing trend. At the same time, there still exists a sizeable audience primarily interested in a quality phone, but scaled down in features, being used primarily for voice and text.
Which accessories are the most popular?
Wireless accessories really have crossed over to ‘necessity’ status. More and more consumers are purchasing home and wall chargers, earpieces and extra batteries at the point of sale when purchasing their handsets. Other than charger and power devices, Bluetooth, as well as corded headsets, are the hottest items right now – driven largely by many of the hands-free driving laws taking effect across the country.
What plans are customers asking about and signing up for?
The biggest trends we’re seeing in plans currently is for ‘capped-rate’ plans. Consumers are increasingly looking to best predict or lock-in what their monthly spending will be to minimize surprises at the end of the month. The unlimited post-paid rate plans and the all-in flat-rate monthly pre-paid plans are receiving a lot of interest and activity as a result.
Which data service add-ons are consumers most interested in?
Text messaging remains the most added across all of our customer segments. Rapidly gaining in popularity and broad appeal are GPS and location-based services.
What trends do you expect to see this summer?
We expect to see an acceleration of three key trends: consumer migration to feature-rich devices, increasing popularity of flat-rate airtime plans and hands-free earpieces and car kits.