Virgin Mobile USA has decided to go iPhone only. Well, kind of. Virgin is teaming up with Apple to offer you what they are calling the “Inner Circle” plan. Virgin is stating that there is no other phone on the market. Literally. “There’s iPhone. And then there’s everything else. At Virgin Mobile, we’re teaming with Apple to offer you nothing but the world’s most popular phone. Because life in the Inner Circle is about living big, expanding your horizons and pursuing your passions. And it starts with an iPhone you’ll adore.” The plan itself will only cost you $1, and with it you get unlimited talk, text and data.
Which is amazing, right? Except if you’re not an iPhone customer, you’re out of luck. At least in terms of this plan. That doesn’t mean you can’t get one, so it seems that this is Apple’s way (indirectly) of getting you to switch? I’ve written a lot about brand loyalty in the past. Especially how it relates to which kind of device/platform that you choose. As an aside, I spent the day in meetings today, and as I looked around the room, I noticed that the majority of people at the meeting were iPhone users. Which is interesting, isn’t it? Especially when the data suggests that there are more Android users than people using iOS. But it does speak to the larger battle between iOS and Android.
But this is merely an incentive from Virgin. After the first year, you will have to pay $50 a month. So is it worth it? The plan itself technically isn’t unlimited. Virgin notes that data usage may be ‘deprioritized’ if you go over 23GB a month, and that your service may be terminated altogether if your roaming usage exceeds 100MB data, 800 minutes talk-time or if roaming forms the majority of your usage. So there are some stipulations around what you can and can’t do. I will ask the question, is it worth it?
I suppose it depends on what you are using your data for. In Canada, 23 GB a month is huge, so in my opinion it would be worth it. Even at $50 a month, 23 GB is a steal, if you’re Canadian. That being said, however, my American friends have much better data options. So maybe it’s not worth it? You still have to pay full price for the phone itself, so maybe you will end up on top. Or you might end up breaking even, depending on how much you pay now.
When I heard about this plan, I thought the idea was interesting. It’s a way to get people to buy new or different devices. It’s about incentives. It’s actually a really neat way to try to sway people to buy your product. But I’m not necessarily convinced that it’s worth it because you have to buy the iPhone at full price. An iPhone 7 goes for about $649. Yes, you can get an older iPhone that’s cheaper, but do you really want an older version? If yes, and you don’t care about the latest and greatest, then this is likely worth it. If you need the most recent device , then perhaps this isn’t the plan for you.
One thing that I’ve not really spoken to, is the name of the plan itself. It’s called the “Inner Circle” plan. I find Virgin’s humour funny, myself. But it’s kind of elitist. Which, I understand is the point. Are Apple and Virgin trying to capitalize on the idea that if you don’t have an iPhone, you’re not worthy? Absolutely they are, but is this the way to do it? The technology should speak for itself. And in many ways it does, which makes me think that there is a bigger issue. Is Apple selling enough iPhones or is the competition too steep and therefore this is concern for Apple?