Update: Apple commented on the move:
“By making iPhone available on pre-paid plans through Cricket Wireless, we are making the best smartphone more accessible to an even broader market in the US,” Apple representative Natalie Harrison said.
Apple took a big step today in the United States by aligning with Cricket prepaid Wireless. While you can buy an iPhone off-contract (for significantly more than the above Cricket prices), and then go on AT&T, T-Mobile, or any GSM carriers’ network, this is the first time Apple has let the iPhone play in the prepaid market.
Cricket’s monthly fee for unlimited anything (data throttled after 2.3GB) is $55 per month, which is very low for all things considered. You can also quit at any time, take months off, or trade phones. However, you need to buy the iPhone at an “unsubsidized rate.” But is it really unsubsidized?
What is interesting is that Cricket offers the iPhone 4 for $399 and iPhone 4S for $499. Look at Apple’s prices for unlocked iPhone 4S (iPhone 4 costs $549):
There is a $150 gap somewhere. Perhaps Cricket is subsidizing some of the cost by thinking buyers will eventually make up that $150 difference in service fees. Apple may also offer Cricket a discount as it buys large quantities of iPhones, because Apple is hoping to spread its customer base.
We are not sure how many prepaid customers will shell out $400 to $500 up front for an iPhone. However, there are probably some jailbreaker/unlockers or otherwise who would like to take a Cricket iPhone and use it off-network (or without a network).
Sprint, which carries the iPhone, and owns two big prepaid networks in Virgin and Boost Mobile, will likely have an iPhone prepaid offering in the coming months too.
The press release follows: expand full story