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Virgin Mobile Partners With Apple to Go iPhone-Only With $1 Service

Josh Centers, writing for TidBITS on Virgin Mobile’s intriguing decision to go iPhone-only:

Pundits have long suspected that two roadblocks stood in the way of Apple becoming a carrier: the infrastructure is incredibly expensive, even if you lease it from the larger carriers, and Apple could limit the iPhone business if it were to compete with the major carriers.

But Apple has sidestepped those concerns by essentially taking over a carrier (actually a carrier-owned MVNO — Mobile Virtual Network Operator) without acquiring it. Apple may not own Virgin Mobile, but Virgin Mobile is now utterly dependent on Apple and will benefit through promotion in Apple Stores.

We shouldn’t read too much into this deal, but at the very least it’s unusual to see a company like Virgin Mobile going all-in on the iPhone. And it might point toward Apple dipping its toe into the MVNO business.

Virgin Mobile is owned by Sprint (and thus uses Sprint’s back-end), and in my experience Sprint is the worst of the U.S. carriers, so this is not a panacea. But it is intriguing.

Monday, 26 June 2017