América Móvil's U.S. MVNO, TracFone Wireless, announced that its Straight Talk brand will sell Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5 and iPhone 4 in Walmart stores starting Jan. 11. Walmart said it will offer "a no interest fixed-monthly payments special financing offer for only $25 a month with a Walmart Credit Card" in order to help customers pay for the phone.
Straight Talk will sell the iPhone 5 for $649 for the 16 GB model only, and the iPhone 4 for $449 for the 8 GB model only. Straight Talk will offer the phone with two plans: $45 per month for unlimited voice, text and data, and $60 per month for unlimited voice, text and data and unlimited international calling to around 1,000 international destinations.
"We are thrilled to be bringing the remarkable iPhone 5 to customers looking for one of the most advanced smartphones with one of the most affordable No Contract plans ever," said TracFone CEO F.J. Pollak. "The advanced iPhone 5 with our unlimited $45 monthly plan and Walmart's $25 special financing offer is a marriage made in heaven--making it the most affordable premium smartphone offer in America. With this exclusive offer the last reason for not purchasing the No Contract Straight Talk plan is gone."
The offering represents a major new effort by TracFone, which primarily sells inexpensive feature phones. The MVNO has made efforts to expand into smartphones, but the iPhone 5 represents its most ambitious--and most expensive--attempt to target the high-end of the market. But it's no surprise TracFone is working to sell smartphones: sales of smartphones continue to grow at the expense of feature phones.
It's unclear exactly how the iPhone 5 will work on Straight Talk's service. The gadget supports LTE networks, but TracFone did not provide details on whether iPhone 5 users would be able to connect to LTE networks.
TracFone operates a number of brands, including Net10, Telcel America and Simple Mobile. In the third quarter, TracFone, posted net subscriber gains in the quarter of 302,000, weaker than in the year-ago period. The figures brought TracFone's subscriber base to 21.6 million, making it by far the nation's largest MVNO.
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