Virgin Mobile launched Apple’s iPhone 4 and 4S to few reported lines and little fanfare. Virgin became the second U.S. prepaid carrier to offer the iPhone. Cricket was the first, they launched the iPhone June 22.
Virgin opened its first branded retail stores in Chicago to capitalize on the launch, and also sold the phone through RadioShack and Best Buy. According to checks by BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk, there were no lines at eight RadioShack and Best Buy locations in New York City and San Francisco.
“We were not surprised by the lack of lines but it was a little odd to see no signage on the front of the stores or marketing collateral within the stores advertising the product launch,” Piecyk wrote in a blog post. “Phones were available, but the lack of marketing materials and the comments made by the store personnel we spoke to indicated that they did not expect many of their customers to opt for the costlier version of the iPhone.”
Virgin Mobile spokeswoman Jayne Wallace declined to comment on the first weekend of sale.
Virgin offers the iPhone 4s 16 GB model for $649, and the 8 GB iPhone 4 for $549. Beyond Talk pricing plans for the iPhone start at $30 per month. That plan offers 300 voice minutes and “unlimited” texting and data. A $50 plan is also available for unlimited voice, data and texting. The “unlimited’ plans both have a 2.5 GB data cap, after which the customers’ data speeds will be throttled for the remainder of their billing cycle.
“We think there’s good demand for high-end devices like the iPhone in the prepaid market,” Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said in an interview with Bloomberg ahead of the launch. “There’s a misperception that the prepaid market is only for people that are economically challenged. That’s not the case. Our expectation, based on preorders, is that the iPhone will do very well on Virgin.”
Cricket did not release initial sales figures for its iPhone launch, but company representatives said that opening weekend sales were “brisk.”