Virgin Mobile fired shots across the bow of its pre-paid competition this morning as it officially launched the Beyond Talk plans that we told you about just under a week ago. Starting at $25, the main selling point of the Beyond Talk service offerings is that they all feature unlimited text, email, data and web. The reason for the difference in price between the plans is the number of minutes you get. The $25 and $40 plans are good for 300 and 1,200 minutes respectively, while the $60 plan offers unlimited voice. For an extra $10, you can add BlackBerry data. Of course you won’t be able to use a BlackBerry on Virgin until the end of this month when it launches the Curve 8530 for $299.99, but the prospect of a pre-paid BlackBerry plan for $35 is worth waiting a few weeks for, right? More →
Some huge news this evening in the world of prepaid mobiles as Sprint has announced its new strategies for Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile. With some 60 million Americans using prepaid mobiles, Sprint feels the time is right to make an all-out assault on the market. Said Sprint’s Dan Schulman: “This is the year that prepaid moves to the forefront of the wireless industry. In the first quarter of 2010, more than half of the mobile gross additions in the U.S. selected prepaid, and we predict that approximately 70% of the net adds in 2010 will choose plans without a contract,” adding that “the no-contract market has clearly moved beyond the credit-challenged and lower income segments.” Here’s what’s in the pipeline.
As of May 12th, Virgin Mobile will begin offering Beyond Talk plans. Ranging from $25 to $60 per month, each plan includes unlimited SMS/MMS, email, data and web. The $25 plan includes 300 minutes, the $40 plan 1,200 minutes and the $60 plan has unlimited minutes. Throw in an extra $10 per month and you’ll be able to hook a BlackBerry up to BIS. Yes, you read that right. $35 for a BlackBerry with unlimited data. If you’re a bit puzzled as to why Virgin is more focused on data and texts over voice minutes, the reason is simple: the amount of voice minutes used by young adults continues to plummet as email, IM and SMS grows at a rate of 150% during the years 2007 to 2009. Factor in 1800% growth in mobile data in this segment and it’s pretty obvious Virgin is one of the few companies that actually caters to the demands of its customers. This brings us to its new handsets. Virgin Mobile will be bringing the LG Rumor Touch and Rumor 2 ($149.99 and $89.99, both only available off contract), and Kyocera Loft ($69.99) into the fold with the BlackBerry Curve 8530 launching at the end of May with a retail price of $299.99.
As for Boost, not much is new in terms of plans (keep in mind it just announced that unlimited calls to 411, email and IM were recently added to its $50 unlimited plan which also includes all the talking, texting and web you wish), but now we know for sure that it will soon be carrying the Samsung Rant and Kyocera Incognito, Mirror and Juno.
Hit up the jump to check out the press release. More →
Looks like Virgin Mobile Canada is ready to break its iPhone hymen. Yesterday they announced that they will be offering both the iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS in retail stores in “the coming months.” Oh Sir Richard, how we love thee. We suppose you want details, but we don’t have any — the press release is a blistering 31 words and 198 characters long, hell if they had been a bit more succinct they could have just tweeted it — as Virgin Canada’s website has yet to be updated with the news. We’ll continue to follow this one as it develops. More →
Didn’t see this one coming… Apparently Branson’s Helio-hawking MVNO Virgin Mobile is about to be gobbled up by the nation’s number three. Sprint has officially announced its intentions to acquire the popular prepaid peddler and according to the release, it’s a done deal. Sprint will cough up $483 million in total for the acquisition, though its current 13.1 percent stake in the company factors into that figure. The carrier will also cover VM’s $250 million in debt at closing. We’re not yet sure how the VM brand will be positioned in Sprint’s arsenal — perhaps it will remain a separate brand or maybe it will be folded into Boost Mobile — but the bottom line is Sprint sees plenty of potential in the prepaid market. You know what they say… There’s no money like up front money.
Just one day after we scooped fresh product shots of Virgin Mobile USA’s first mobile broadband device, the Novatel Wireless MC760, the company has announced the availability of its contract-free Broadband2Go service. Touted as a 3G nationwide wireless Internet service, the MVNO’s new offering is sure to pique the interest of infrequent travelers and light mobile broadband users who simply can’t justify a $60 per month service for sporadic usage. Out of the gate, the pricing structure is a bit different than we had believed back when we first broke news of the coming broadband offering. Users will be able to purchase Broadband2Go Top-Up cards in the following denominations:
- $10 — 100MB usable for 10 days
- $20 — 250MB usable for 30 days
- $40 — 600MB usable for 30 days
- $60 — 1GB usable for 30 days
On the surface these options appear to be a bit pricey but again, postpaid options from other carriers can cost $720 per year or more. For users who only need mobile broadband access a few months out of each year, spending a total of $60, $120 or even $180 for Top-Up cards that will get them through a full year translates into massive savings.
Patience Virgin Mobile subscribers, patience. Last month we scooped an upcoming mobile broadband offering from Virgin Mobile that is slowly but surely making its way to Best Buy Mobile. Shortly thereafter, we scared up some possible details as far as pricing and data cost are concerned. Well folks, it looks like we might be getting closer to launch time as one of our readers tossed on his mining hat and managed to dig up some dirt. Found camping out on a Best Buy image server, two images of an upcoming Virgin Mobile USB modem sit ready and waiting. We’ve verified their presence on Best Buy’s servers and the item numbers match so you’re indeed looking at what will be VM’s first mobile broadband accessory here in the US. To refresh your memory, Virgin Mobile will supposedly offer both prepaid and postpaid mobile broadband packages and the modem will run $150. Hit the jump for one more shot.
We’re not sure how many readers out there are sitting on the edges of their seats waiting for more info on Virgin Mobile’s upcoming broadband card we scooped last week. If there is even one however, we would be remiss if we ignored him or her. Consider this unconfirmed for the time being, but a tipster whose intel has panned out in the past just hit us with the missing puzzle piece from our scoop — prepaid pricing. Virgin Mobile is all about prepaid after all, so we were pretty curious to find out how attractive its prepaid pricing structure would be. Answer: meh. It looks like VM will offer $20 prepaid cards alongside its broadband offering and each card will be good for 250MB of data. We’re not yet sure if additional denominations will be available. 250MB for $20 might not seem like a great deal but it’s actually not terrible — users looking for a mobile broadband solution for light use while traveling every few months for example, will definitely save hundreds of dollars or more by avoiding a monthly subscription fee.
So to recap what we have so far: $149.99 for the card / Postpaid options: 5GB of data per month for $40 or 1GB of data per month for an unknown fee / Prepaid option: $20 per 250MB prepaid card.
You know everyone has a mobile broadband card when Virgin Mobile is going to be carrying one… We just got word, and this screenshot, from one of our ninjas saying Best Buy is going to be carrying the data card starting June 14th. Just like everything else from Virgin Mobile, there will apparently be a prepaid option as well! Do you find yourself constantly worrying that you’re about to pass the 5GB softcap on your plan? If so, prepaid can definitely put an end to your troubles. Pricing isn’t solid yet but as far as monthly plan options go, we’re told it should be competitive with Cricket — possibly $40 for 5GB and a cheaper 1GB plan as well — and the card itself will run $149.99. Details on how prepaid will work are not yet avaialble.
While there has yet to be a formal announcement of any new handsets, some eagle-eyed observers noticed two new handsets from Kyocera for sale on Virgin Mobile’s website. Being Virgin Mobile phones, they’re not much to write home about but given the current economic climate we’re in, it’s a given that these phones will garner more interest than they would during prosperous times. Starting off with what is nothing more than a Virgin-branded S1300 Melo, the JAX is a plain Jane candybar that features… a color screen. Moving on to the more promising of the two, the X-tc sports a full-QWERTY slider, QVGA display, 1.3 megapixel camera, stereo Bluetooth and comes pre-loaded with a Facebook and MySpace application. Not bad at all for a $100 phone.
[Via Phone Scoop]
Read – X-tc
Read – JAX
At long last, the Helio Ocean 2 is now available online. Many will just chuckle and give this bubbly handset a pass (especially for those who gave up after waiting for so long), but for those few die-hard Helio fans left it’s better late than never. If you have been lusting after this device and were waiting for its official release, head on over to Helio’s website where you can grab one for $149 with a two-year contract. If you click on the little “lawyers note” where the phone is available for online ordering, it also mentions that this is a limited time offer only. We’re not sure exactly what they mean by that, but it’s a pretty good cue to get one soon. Is there anyone out there getting ready to pick one one of these “3G social networking powerhouses”?
After one long year of waiting in agony, excitement, disappointment, despair and lastly hope, it looks like the Helio Ocean 2 has finally materialized and it appears to be a sure thing now. The packaging looks very similar to the first Ocean, though it is now just called Ocean 2 given the Virgin Mobile acquisition of Helio. There’s no mistaking this for anything else as it looks very much like the original and exactly like all the leaked images from a few months back. Word seems to be pretty solid that this is coming on February 12, so we’re just days away from salvation. The second generation Ocean has an upgraded version of the Ultimate Inbox which now threads SMS messages and has Google Talk included. The browser now supports full HTML and with 2GB of internal storage, you won’t be aching for memory as often as you did with the first Ocean. Hit the read link for a full unboxing treatment.
Helio fans have had enough torment for the last year. First, there were rumors that the company was going to go completely bankrupt. Then there were mixed feelings about the MVNO being acquired by another MVNO – Virgin Mobile. To top it all off, die-hard Ocean lovers kept getting their hopes and dreams shot down every couple of months with news of the Ocean 2, only to have it never arrive. Well, we hate to put you on that rollercoaster of emotions but a pretty solid source put word out that Helio is planning to put out the Ocean 2 as early as next month. But with the iPhone, Bold, Curve 8900, Storm, Palm Pre, G1, and HTC Fuze, how well will the Ocean 2 keep up? Not many even know about the original Ocean let alone rumors of a second iteration coming out. As much as we loved the first Ocean, we’re afraid this might be too little too late – even for some of the biggest Helio fans. No word on pricing as of yet, but with the original Ocean’s $299, don’t expect anything too tempting.
Earlier this year, around March, news of the Helio Ocean 2 was flooding the ‘net with diagrams “leaked” by the FCC. Well, the rumors and possibilities were quickly trashed when news of a Virgin Mobile acquisition of Helio came out. ‘Twas a sad day for hardcore Helio fans and mixed emotions were abound in the VM camp. However, it seems that Helio is still maintaining its unique branding of software and equipment even after the VM absorption, which makes the news of this new device all the more legit. The image speaks for itself: It distinctly resembles the original OZ1 and is even branded with the Helio name. It also appears to have touch-sensitive surfaces where the physical buttons used to be, which likely means haptic feedback, too. There’s even an optical joystick for navigation. Seems like it would also feature a QVGA display, Ev-DO, 2 megapixel cam with video, full HTML browser, and A2DP support. The phone should “wow” all the Helions who are still clinging onto their first-generation Oceans, but…
When is this sweet little gadget coming out? According to the folks over at Heliocity, they received an e-mail from a higher-up at Virgin telling them it’s not slated until early 2009! Are they kidding? They’ll have a lot of catching up to do because it’s likely this device might be outdated at that point (since it’s close to being ‘dated before its release). Come on, VM! Helio waited an eternity to update this and look where it got them. For the few die-hards that didn’t leave Helio and refuse to budge, cross those fingers and hope this comes out sooner than later.