T-Mobile USA MVNO Solavei is offering U.S. customers a chance to buy the BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) Z10 smartphone at least a month before any other U.S. customers. The catch, however, is that the device is unlocked and will cost $999.
Solavei said it will sell the device via its retail partner GSM Nation. T-Mobile itself has indicated it too will launch the device. T-Mobile didn't commit to a firm launch date or price, but said it's aiming for a March launch at around $200 with a two-year contract. The Z10 is now on sale in the United Kingdom and Canada, and BlackBerry is making the device available unlocked to carriers in the Middle East for around $700, according to AllThingsD.
The Z10 runs on BlackBerry's brand new BlackBerry 10 software, has a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor, and sports a 4.2-inch display with 1280 x 768 resolution, 8-megapixel camera capable of recording 1080p HD video, 2-megapixel front-facing camera and LTE.
"We believe in giving our members access to the latest phones and wireless capabilities," said Solavei founder and CEO Ryan Wuerch. "Solavei not only gives its members the opportunity to pay less for unlimited mobile service, but even the opportunity to earn income by sharing Solavei with others."
Solavei, which launched its service in September, said it now counts more than 120,000 "members" on its service. Through GSM Nation it also offers other unlocked top-flight smartphones, including the Huawei Ascend P1 for $391, the LG-made Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Nexus 4 for $405 and the Samsung Galaxy S III for $575.
Solavei offers unlimited voice, text and data (the first 4 GB at high speed) without a contract on T-Mobile's network for $49 per month. Because Solavei relies on customers to sign up other customers, Solavei pays each customer a $20 commission per month for each "trio" or three customers that they sign up. Customers will also get paid when the people they sign up then sign up others. Thus, Solavei's business model calls for the company to reduce customer care costs and customer acquisition costs by not paying for phone subsidies and instead paying customers to sell the service to their friends.
- see this release
- see this AllThingsD article
BlackBerry's Q10 smartphone may not hit U.S. until May or June
BlackBerry's Heins: Initial BlackBerry 10 response is 'beyond expectations'
MetroPCS, Leap and other Tier 2 U.S. carriers lukewarm on BlackBerry 10
RIM unveils BlackBerry Z10 and Q10, but pushes U.S. launch to March
Solavei counts 65,000 members, pays out $1M in commissions