With billionaire space travel enthusiast and Virgin founder Richard Branson front and center, the company unveiled a refresh of their American approach at an event in San Francisco. Virgin Mobile USA is embracing Apple as their one-and-only and will transition into becoming an iPhone-only carrier. The company will be phasing out sales of Android devices as a result. It’s a pretty big move for a prepaid carrier to make, but Virgin Mobile USA CEO Dow Draper is confident it’s the right move for where Virgin wants to be.
“It’s not often as a brand you get a chance to reposition yourself,” said Draper in an interview Tuesday. “We know you gotta have a compelling offer.”
Virgin’s leaning hard into the compelling offer side of the equation by pushing a price point that thrifty types are expected to perk up to. The first year of unlimited talk, text messages and data will cost $1 for the first twelve months. Naturally, there’s a catch to the wireless service for 100 pennies deal. To qualify for Virgin’s “Inner Circle” service, customers would be required to buy an iPhone from Apple or Virgin. Once the year’s up the price bumps up to $50 a month. The unlimited service is subject to bandwidth usage limits with throttling coming into effect after the max is hit.
Perks are part of Virgin’s pitch as well. Inner Circle customers will nab a free companion ticket for a round-trip flight to the Great Britain on Virgin Atlantic, an evening’s stay at a Virgin hotel, plus 20% off at the Virgin Sport San Francisco Festival of Fitness which sounds like it could be fun.
Virgin Mobile’s reintroduction as an iPhone-tied mobile provider has the potential to revamp the company’s image and inspire competitors like MetroPCS and Cricket Wireless to react to change. The answers will ultimately be left in the customer’s text hooks and if they buy into Virgin’s iPhone era.