Cricket to Sell Prepaid iPhone 5
Wireless prepaid carrier Cricket Communications will offer Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone 5 starting Sept. 28, according to the company — one week after the smartphone is available to AT&T (NYSE: ATT), Sprint (NYSE: S) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) customers. Earlier this year, Cricket became the first prepaid carrier to carry the iPhone 4 and 4S.
According to the Sprint and Verizon websites, both are taking iPhone 5 preorders starting Friday, Sept. 14. AT&T has been mum about preorders, perhaps because it’s fumbled the process previously and now there’s word that its website may have a bug that could affect customers’ preorders.
Should any of this concern channel partners? In a word, yes. An iPhone in a user’s hands is the same as one in an employee’s hands, which is where mobile device management comes in and why it concerns VARs. Here are the Cricket details:
Apple, which rolled out the iPhone 5 on Wednesday, may extend the device to other regional networks as well as the three large carriers, if Cricket’s landing the smartphone indicates the vendor’s thinking. While Cricket didn’t talk about pricing in its announcement, when it handled the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S last June the 16GB version was priced at $499.99 and the 8GB edition at $399.99 with a $55 per month, unlimited talk, text and data, no contract plan.
When Cricket began selling the iPhone 4 and 4S, Doug Hutcheson, Leap Wireless (Cricket’s parent company) president, called it a “major milestone for us.” We’ll see if that still holds true for the iPhone 5. Cricket began selling the iPhone 4 two years after its debut and the iPhone 4S only three months before Apple brought out the iPhone 5, so it will be interesting to see how the company fares — will the price of the hardware be worth it to customers in exchange for the no-strings attached service deal? Indeed, over the course of the two-year contracts required by the large, national carriers, Cricket users can save $1,000 or more, depending on usage.
And what about the quality of Cricket’s service? In a report in TechNewsDaily, Brad Akyuz, NPD Connected Intelligence director, allowed that the carrier “offers a decent service at competitive service points,” which, as the report noted, doesn’t exactly blow the roof off, but is good enough for most people.