Verizon Wireless(s vz)(s vod) is going after the Latino market through a new venture called Viva Movil and it’s getting a little bit of help from Jennifer Lopez. The new venture, owned by Lopez, retail chain Moorehead Communications and mobile supply chain manager Brightstar, will have its own physical and online stores, but the devices and service plans all will be Verizon’s.
Speaking at a Verizon press conference at CTIA Wireless, Lopez said that there are 52 million Latinos in the U.S. with a combined purchasing power of $1.2 trillion annually, presenting a huge opportunity for a premium mobile service. “As modern Latinos, we do things differently, including how we shop for mobile devices,” said Lopez, who is assuming the role of Viva’s chief creative officer.
The venture might sound like one of the new breed of mobile virtual network operators, like TracFone’s(s amex) Telcel America, which also targets the Latino community. But it’s not an MVNO. Nor is it a Verizon brand, like Virgin Mobile is brand of Sprint.
The best way to think of Viva Movil is as an authorized dealer, like RadioShack(s rsh) or Best Buy(s bby). Verizon has no ownership stake in the Viva, but it will be the venture’s exclusive service and device provider, said Verizon COO and EVP Marni Walden.
The only thing Viva stores will sell other than Verizon phones and services will be a line of accessories such as smartphone cases supposedly designed by Lopez. Viva is also adding a twist on the online front. It will turn its Facebook(s fb) page into a full retail portal. Customers can see what phones their Facebook friends have bought or recommended, and they will be able to buy their devices and set up their accounts directly from the Facebook page, Lopez said.
The first store will open on June 15 in New York City. Lopez and Walden wouldn’t say where it would be located, though they strongly hinted it would be Times Square. The company plans to follow up with 15 more store openings in cities with big Latino populations.