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Prepaid Wireless Tracker #113, Nov 2017 - Virgin Mobile Backtracks On Dumb iPhone-Only Strategy!
November 01, 2017
Prepaid Wireless Tracker
- November 2017, Issue #113
I find this to be extremely amusing! After a LONG delay of its anticipated re-launch, Virgin Mobile announced its Inner Circle program, iPhone-only program. Existing Android users were still allowed to stay on their existing Virgin plan, however, moving to Inner Circle, or upgrading phones would require a new iPhone. Even certain older iPhones were required to be upgraded to a newer model to work on Inner Circle Now they announce that due to customer concern they are now offering Android phones on their website, and state that they will continue selling them through fall 2018. Virgin states that after that point customers looking for value (i.e. they don't want overly expensive iPhones!) will be offered a special plan on Boost Mobile, specifically designed for Virgin customers looking to upgrade.
They state that phasing out the sale of Android phones was always the strategy, however, I call B.S. on that! I don't recall a peep about this phasing out approach previously. As is customary in Sprint-land, after laying off the vast majority of employees who knew anything about prepaid, it continues to clearly struggle to figure out how to manage its prepaid brands.
I expect Virgin is tied into iPhone exclusivity for a period of time, so this Boost Mobile offer is a way to avoid outright losing valuable subscribers who need to upgrade, but refuse to pay a premium for iPhones. In the long run, when it is legally permitted to do so, I predict that Virgin will move away this supremely stupid iPhone only strategy. iPhones simply don't carry the reputation they once did to provide the Virgin brand with any kind of real cache. The market has shifted to seeing them as over-priced phones with marginal to no feature value over even mid-range Android phones. Moreover, their exclusive deal isn't bringing in special discounted customer pricing, or special edition iPhones. This strategy was clearly not well thought through, and for lack of a better term, is simply a dumb idea. Business Wire
For those Apple fans eager to get your hands on the latest iPhone X, you'll be able to order one from Boost Mobile starting November 10th. You can also check out their financing options if you don't want to lay out the cost to purchase it outright. Personally, I'm not a fan of financing phones that plummet in value about 6-months after launch, however, it remains a popular option, and carriers like Boost Mobile are happy to take your money regardless of how they get it.
Well it's holiday season, which means carriers bring out the lowest form of competition in the form of decreased prices. This hits their bottom line, but certainly helps with customer acquisition! Porting your number into a family plan will get you access to a decent quality Android smartphone, and a $100/month plan for 4 lines (i.e. $25/line). This is half of their existing price for a single line on an unlimited plan ($50/month), which is quite a good deal, and kills Cricket's $180/month for the same 4 lines. If your family fits this deal, it's definitely worth checking out!
I hesitated posting this article as it made me laugh; when a company focuses on a market, it grows in that market. Thank you for the business revelation from the genius industry "experts" ;-). It is worth following its results, however, as I've said for the better part of a decade, that once Verizon stops ignoring the prepaid market, it would be ready to compete. While it's not being aggressive at all with its offers, it was cornered into meaningfully addressing the market once it saw postpaid sales materially decrease. It will be interesting to see how long it takes Verizon to really aggressively compete; I expect we're still a number of years away from that point.
ZTE Is Aggressively Driving Sales By Driving Great Value Smartphones & Exclusive Deals Across Prepaid Carriers
Since its acquisition by AT&T, Cricket has been very conservative with its retail presence. Now Nevada customers finally have a retail option to explore Cricket phones and plans. The company states that this will beef up competition in an attempt to steal customers from MetroPCS, TracFone, and others. Cricket has always been competitive with its unlimited plans (now $60/month), and also has a four line family plan for $180. Definitely worth checking out if you live in Nevada and have hesitated due to the lack of presence.
I have a dedicated page for Google Project Fi Wireless Service, however, this is a very good review worth noting. I know people who use the service and have positive feedback. While the number of supported phones has increased since its launch, I would say that remains one of its greatest limitations that results in a pretty significant barrier to entry. That said, it's still alive and ticking, and it's not really Google's strategy to dominate the space, but rather to stimulate competition and creativity around flexible plan options.
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