Hop-On Unveils $10 Mobile Phone - InformationWeek

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Hop-On Unveils $10 Mobile Phone

The Hop 1800 works with more than 40 U.S. wireless carriers, including AT&T, Cingular, and T-Mobile.

Hop-on on Friday launched a no-frills $10 phone that the company says is ideal as a backup phone, when traveling abroad, or for people interested in only making calls.

The Hop 1800 is a prepaid cellular phone with no display. The device works with more than 40 U.S. wireless carriers, including AT&T, Cingular, and T-Mobile. Hop-on also offers wireless service.

The concept behind the new device is to offer a phone to people who need it only to talk. U.S. travelers in Europe or Asia, for example, could buy a local SIM card to avoid expensive roaming fees, or people who can't afford subscription cellular service can use the device with a prepaid plan.

The device comes in two dual-band models, one 850/1,900 MHz and the other 900/1,900 MHz for Europe and Asia. The phone weighs less than 3 ounces and offers four hours of talk time, according to Hop-on. While the low price makes the phone disposable, to encourage recycling Hop-on offers a $5 rebate for returning the phone.

The Hop 1800 is sold through retailers, such as drug and convenience stores, and to businesses looking for a "unique branding opportunity," Hop-on said. The company can imprint sports team or corporate logos on the device.

"Instead of another coffee mug, offering a branded cell phone is a memorable branding opportunity that will literally keep you in touch with your customers," Peter Michaels, chief executive of Hop-on, said in a statement.

Hop-on develops and markets mobile phones and accessories for emerging markets. The company also makes mobile-gambling software that allows users to stream live interactive feeds from legal jurisdictions to play poker, blackjack, roulette, and baccarat.

In 2001, Hop-on launched the first disposable mobile phone, which cost $30. The San Francisco Chronicle, however, reported several months later that a prototype of the phone was a jury-rigged Nokia phone with a plastic facade. The company eventually stopped selling the phones.

Low-cost phones are expected to be one of the strongest segments of the mobile-phone market this year, as rising food and fuel prices erode people's disposable incomes. Emerging markets are the biggest buyers of inexpensive phones.

Mobile phone suppliers shipped a total of 291.5 million units during the first quarter of this year, a 14.3% jump over the previous year's quarter, according to IDC.

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