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.