AT&T's Aio Wireless Wants 'Soccer Moms,' Leap Goes for Urban Youth

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Will AT&T be a house divided by its Aio Wireless and soon-to-be Leap-Cricket brands?

That's a question some are asking. The carrier is taking its Aio Wireless prepaid service nationwide this month after a trial run in three states. It's also made a bid for Leap Wireless, one of the nation's largest prepaid wireless providers. On top of that, it already has a GoPhone prepaid offering.

Aio Wireless subscribers can choose among three plans, each of which includes unlimited voice, texting and data services. The nationwide launch of Aio could give AT&T a much more significant share of the prepaid market.

"We've been watching Aio's launch and expansion (already with 200 physical retail locations) with interest, given its mix of no-contract flexibility and slightly upscale market focus," noted Yankee Group Senior Analyst Rich Karpinski, commenting specifically on a CNET article. "Taking the brand nationwide – albeit online-only at first – is an important next step and we can expect it to be accompanied by aggressive marketing. We're eager to see the mix of outreach between TV (can it score a marketing win as notable as AT&T's 'kids around the table' campaign?) and more targeted online/social media."

Karpinski doesn't believe Aio's launch is negatively impacted by AT&T's Leap proposal. Both brands are predicted to coexist, showing segmentation of the mobile-services market and reflecting the demand for such services. Karpinski expects Aio will market itself toward "soccer moms and value-seeking techies" while Leap will pursue "a young/urban/ethnic demographic."

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