Cricket Communications, the wireless operator behind the surprise hit Muve Music service, is going national.
The pre-paid carrier to date has operated only in select markets nationwide, 35 states and amassed some 5.7 million customers. The plan now is to expand operations in those state in which it currently operates, and expand to new markets as well, totaling 11,500 locations in all once complete.
The expansion will take place over the next two months via retail agreements with 1,300 Best Buy stores along with Walmart and other deals, including a network leasing agreement with partner Sprint which lets Cricket piggypack on the Sprint network for coverage in markets where it does not have its own infrastructure.
A key drive of this expansion is its Muve Music service. Since launching in January, the service has amassed more than 200,000 subscribers. The unique service bundles in the cost of a monthly music subscription into the data plan of the phone. For $55 a month, users get unlimited talk, text, Web and music on a phone built specifically as a music player. Cricket also recently introduced a second handset that supports the service, an Android-powered Samsung Vitality.
While Cricket did not get any of the pre-launch hype of such services as Rdio and even Spotify, it's proven one of the few digital music success stories this year. Sources have reported Cricket executives actually being applauded by label partners when showing up for meetings since the positive numbers began rolling in.
It will be an important service to watch going forward to see whether this is just a flash in the pan or a lasting strategy.
Learn more about how Cricket pulled off this unlikely feat at Billboard's FutureSound conference, taking place Nov. 17 - 18 in San Francisco. Muve Music Vice President and General Manager Jeff Toig will be making a presentation outlining the model, the strategy, an the success to date. For more information, visit www.futuresoundconference.com.