Bic Introduces Ready-To-Use Mobile Phones

Dennis Faas's picture

A new kind of discount mobile phone will soon be hitting convenience store shelves throughout France, and their brand name resonates with many of us living in North America. It just isn't your typical cell phone company.

Bic, the makers of ballpoint pens, cigarette lighters and disposable razors are introducing the first batch of ready-to-use cell phones. For €49 ($75 USD) Bic will supply the hardware, phone number and one hour of calls. Consumers simply purchase the package, open it and are ready to dial. (Source:

When you enter a convenience store in France, you might notice a few similarities to the ones found all across North America. At both stores, consumers can purchase milk, cigarettes, and even mobile phones. However, unlike the mobile phones purchased in a North American convenience store, those purchased in France come with no contractual agreement or additional fees. That's because a number of competing phone services in Europe are producing mass quantities of bare-bones, no-strings-attached phones that discourage users from signing long-term commitments.

While products like these would certainly give most phone companies nightmares, the Bic phones are actually a marketing strategy implemented by Orange, the largest telecommunications brand in France.

Orange hopes that the Bic phones will slow the shift towards inexpensive, no-strings-attached mobile phones -- a trend that appears to be sweeping Europe. In most places, these mobile devices are called "SIM-Only" phones.

In France, Tele2, SFR and Bouyges all offer plans where consumers only need to purchase a SIM card and plug it into their existing mobile phone to receive lower calling charges and more flexibility.

Analysts are certain that most people would much rather pay less for phone calls than flaunt a brand new, trendy handset like the iPhone.

So far, the analysts appear to be correct. In Germany, roughly 10 percent of mobile phones are used by SIM-only customers. Many predict that in two or three years this figure could increase to over one quarter of the entire German mobile market. (Source:

For now, the Bic phone is sold exclusively in France. However, if the public responds well to the new concept, we could see plan-free mobile phones appear on North American impulse shelves in the near future.

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