Wednesday, April 2, 2008

One 'Cellular One' Too Many

In 1983, George Duncan, Metromedia Corp's cellular negotiator, hushed a group of marketing executives by saying he was tired of all the names they thought up for new cellular service coming to Washington DC, and exclaimed, "Why don't we just take a simple name like 'Cellular One' "? That matter-of-fact-name became the best-known and trusted name in the then infant cellular industry. Today, the name has mostly fallen into the dusty shelves of cellular history. However, it is being resurrected in the wrong place: Montana.

The Montana PCS carrier with the rather hip name of Chinook Wireless has decided to change their name to the tired "Cellular One". Their new web site, now makes very little mention of its Montana roots and tries to make itself look like one of the corporate titans we love to hate. Cellular One of East Texas made a smart move by re-using the name to make their tiny company appear to be part of something larger. But in Chinook's case, they are taking aim squarely at their foot and shooting.

Not much else has changed at ex-Chinook, but for most Montana residents the reappearance of the Cellular One name surely will conjure up memories of cellular days gone by...for better or worse...from Western Wireless, now part of Alltel. Scott has wisely saved and posted Chinook's last local coverage map, instead of Chinook's...uh...Cellular One's new map that shows national coverage, except for the glaring holes created by the lack of GSM roaming service provided by Alltel, their biggest competitor in their home market. They rely mostly on AT&T, whose coverage is none too good in the rural west. Another foot, another perfect shot.

No comments: