This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Inphonic Navigates the Wireless Wilderness

Find an inefficient market and fix it: It's a time-honored formula for success in a business world where things don't run quite as smoothly as we'd like.

Five years ago, David Steinberg, with the help of former Apple CEO John Sculley, set up Inphonic (INPC), a Washington D.C.-based startup that spotted an inefficient market. Inphonic would do to opaque and unnecessarily costly wireless plans what Expedia did to air travel: help consumers navigate to the best and cheapest deals.

"We're saving consumers money three ways," says Steinberg. "We save them an average of $125 on the phone itself. We save them 20% to 40% by mapping their usage patterns to rate plans available in the market. And we save them by setting up accounts in under five minutes." It takes customers nearly an hour to do that in wireless retail stores.

Steinberg wasn't the first to come up with that idea. There were several other startups helping people sift through mercurial wireless plans --, TelStreet, Simplexity, among others. But Inphonic had a board that included heavyweights such as Sculley, former senator Jack Kemp, Jay Hoag of Technology Crossover Ventures and others with deep ties to the wireless industry.

Those industry ties were crucial. And Inphonic won them by showing they could save the carriers money, too. The carriers spend an average of $380 for each new customer who signs up at a retail store, but only $295 on customers signed through a Web site. "We're disaggregating the cost of running thousands of retail stores," says Steinberg. "Carriers look at us as a low-cost distribution strategy."

By cultivating its connections and drawing on Sculley's marketing experience, Inphonic broke from the pack. Not only does its own Web site,, help consumers compare plans on the basis of roaming, long-distance and anytime minutes, it maintains similar wireless-search functions for 6,000 sites operated by carriers such as Verizon (VZ) and Sprint (FON), phonemakers such as Motorola (MOT) and Samsung and portals such as Yahoo! (YHOO) and Microsoft's (MSFT) MSN.

1 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 17,778.15 +421.28 2.43%
S&P 500 2,061.23 +48.34 2.40%
NASDAQ 4,748.3960 +104.0840 2.24%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs