Leap Wireless International says it will begin selling its Cricket prepaid brand in several big box stores and other top vendors as part of its efforts to increase the retail presence of the brand.
Leap said Tuesday it would increase the number of company-branded stores but did not release details of its big-box push at that time.
Over the next two months, Cricket phones and service will hit shelves at Best Buy, Walmart, Dollar General and the Home Shopping Network. Best Buy will be the first of the new retailers to debut Cricket’s products at 1,300 of its retail stores on Sept. 25. Other retail partners are in the works and will be announced soon.
The retail push leverages Leap’s MVNO deal with Sprint, which allows it to offer nationwide 3G service outside its coverage footprint.
“This is a significant milestone in the plans we announced last year to create a new, hybrid wholesale and facilities-based model that is unique in the wireless industry,” Leap President and CEO Doug Hutcheson said in a statement.
The prepaid operator’s smartphone strategy and Muve Music service are paying off, helping the company keep customers in the highly competitive pay-as-you-go space.
Cricket debuted its seventh smartphone today, the Android-based ZTE Score. The Score includes Cricket’s popular Muve Music service and comes equipped with a 600 MHz processor, 3.5-inch touchscreen and 3.2-megapixel camera. It costs $130 and will hit shelves at Cricket and Best Buy on Sunday.
Nearly one-third of Cricket’s customers use Muve Music devices or smartphones, and Hutcheson expects that number to hit 50 percent by the middle of next year. The music service has proved to be a crowd pleaser for the 200,000-plus customers currently on the plan, with the average customers listening in for about three hours every day.