Mobilicity has signed a distribution agreement with 7-Eleven in which the new wireless player's phones will be sold in the chain's convenience stores in three Canadian cities.
The deal follows a flurry of other distribution agreements between wireless providers and retail chains - deal-making that has largely excluded Mobilicity.
Recently, the massive grocery chain Loblaw Co. Ltd. said it would begin offering a mix of various wireless offerings in 500 of its stores: Although other new wireless competitors Wind Mobile and Public Mobile were on the list - along with Rogers Communications Inc.'s Fido brand, BCE Inc.'s Virgin Mobile, and Telus Corp. - Mobilicity was not.
The move, announced on Thursday, will see Mobilicity's phones in "almost" 150 stores in Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton just in time for the holiday shopping season.
Other new wireless players, as well as the entrenched companies, have struck similar deals: Wind Mobile partnered with Blockbuster, an American-based video-rental chain that sought bankruptcy protection in September; Public Mobile phones are now offered in Gateway Newstands' subway and mall kiosks; while Rogers struck a trial agreement with Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. Bell and Telus have purchased large retail chains outright to add to their distribution footprint: Bell now owns The Source and Telus owns the Black's Photo Corp. chain. Industry analysts consider strong retail presence is extremely important as the wireless market floods with new competitors and the service becomes more and more commoditized.
Like other new wireless players, Mobilicity markets itself as a simple, no-frills alternative to the larger, established wireless companies such as Rogers and Bell, which tend to seek out higher-value customers and focus on smart phones.
"Like 7-Eleven, Mobilicity caters to customers looking for value and convenience," said Doug Perry, Mobilicity's vice president of sales, said in a release.
The deal was not announced as an exclusive arrangement, so it is possible that the convenience store chain may offer phones by others, like Loblaw. Like other large chains, also like Loblaw, 7-Eleven already offered a cheap, top-up cellphone service.