It was just about a year ago that Zer01 Mobile made its grand entrance at the annual CTIA wireless convention.
As CTIA prepares for this year's show on March 23, Zer01's Web site has disappeared. The site recently began redirecting visitors to Google.com.
Zer01 introduced itself at CTIA in 2009 with great fanfare. It promised a flat-rate, no-contract, completely unlimited cell phone service. So interesting was the concept that mainstream media and the trade press lauded the new company.
Zer01 then aligned itself with a multilevel marketing company called Global Verge, and the two companies began recruiting salespeople who paid a monthly fee to be part of a sales program. However, no mobile service from Zer01 ever materialized. Salespeople were promised payment based on how many other salespeople they signed up to the program, although few appear to have received any payment.
Global Verge and Zer01 parted ways. But as late as the fall CTIA show in October 2009, Zer01's CEO Ben Piilani was still promising to launch the mobile service during the MobileFocus event. Zer01 is not listed as a participant in the forthcoming MobileFocus event at the CTIA conference in less than two weeks.
As of Friday, the Zer01 Web site redirects all traffic to Google.com. Cached versions of the site show that it was still displaying Zer01 content as recently as March 2.
Zer01's press spokesman, Ron Dresner, did not respond to a request for comment about the Web site. His company's Web site does not list Zer01 as a client, although his name still appears as a press contact for Unified Technologies Group, Zer01's parent company.
The status of a lawsuit filed by Global Verge against Zer01 in the District Court in Clark County, Nevada, is uncertain. According to court documents, Piilani's legal counsel plans to file a motion to withdraw as his counsel on Monday. That follows her apparent failure, despite good-faith efforts, to communicate with and obtain information from her clients, according to court documents. Lawyers for Global Verge did not reply to a request for comment on the status of the case.
Global Verge, meanwhile, has continued to recruit salespeople to its multilevel marketing plan and partnered with other mobile companies. Global Verge began selling an unlimited mobile service, called Global Mobile 1, but some customers said it wasn't unlimited. On message boards, some people said that after signing up for the $80-per-month unlimited service, they discovered they were actually using a $40-per-month limited plan sold by a company called Page Plus Cellular.
There are currently 17 complaints about Global Verge filed with the Missouri Attorney General's Office.