Everybody Can Be a Cellphone Company

The Wall Street Journal:

The National Wildlife Federation reaches out to its five million members and supporters through direct mail, the Web and email. Now it’s trying something new: its own cellphone service.

The organization launched NWF Mobile in April, offering a line of phones and service plans tailored to wildlife enthusiasts and activists. The group’s phones feature ringtones that croak like frogs and chirp like birds, provide updates on environmental news and, someday, will allow users to call their congressmen at the touch of a button.

“What I saw was a new opportunity to communicate with our constituents,” says Greg Griffith, director of cause-related marketing at the federation. “Just about everybody is getting a cellphone, and the younger generation is using them for just about everything.”

NWF Mobile is one of a host of new mobile services targeting micro-markets, tiny niches that no cellphone giant would have the time or expertise to penetrate.

A California entrepreneur recently launched a service aimed at yoga practitioners — a market he sizes at roughly 20 million in the U.S.

The Chicago Bandits women’s professional softball team is selling a service that provides regular text-message updates on standings and schedules, along with team photos.

Behind the new launches is a former Microsoft executive whose new venture, Sonopia Corp., allows any organization or club to start a wireless company “in 15 minutes or less” online. The company, based in Menlo Park, Calif., has signed up nearly 900 organizations to create their own service, with relevant features, news and content for members of their respective groups.

Photo by Sonopia Corp..

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