updated 02:40 pm EDT, Tue June 5, 2012
Apple making rapid expansion into US prepaid
The Sprint-owned US branch of Virgin Mobile will soon announce prepaid iPhone sales, with a launch taking place as soon as July 1, according to sources for the Wall Street Journal. No other details are mentioned, but the move would make Virgin Mobile just the second US carrier to sell prepaid iPhones, following an announcement by Cricket Wireless last week. That carrier will start iPhone sales on June 22.
If Virgin copies Cricket's plans, it may sell an 8GB iPhone 4 for $399, and a 16GB iPhone 4S for $499. Virgin, however, has three different monthly smartphone plans. All of them offer unlimited texting and data, though only a $55 plan similar to Cricket's also offers unlimited voice. Virgin's $35 and $45 tiers offer 300 minutes and 1,200 minutes, respectively.
Should the Virgin rollout be confirmed, it may suggest that Apple is pushing aggressively into the US prepaid market, something it has traditionally avoided. It may not have any choice, though, if wants to compete against Google's Android platform. Android dominates Virgin's smartphone offerings, and is Apple's biggest competition in the post-paid market as well. After Virgin, Sprint's Boost Mobile could be the next US prepaid iPhone carrier.