How can data be both unlimited and app-specific?
Virgin Mobile has figured out a way. According to Yahoo! Tech, the prepaid mobile carrier has introduced custom data plans beginning on August 9 that grant unlimited data privileges for just $5 a month, but only when said data is used to access a specific mobile app. At launch, those apps include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Pandora.
The use case would be people who only use their phones for checking, updating statuses and sharing pictures on Facebook, or people who listen to a lot of music on Pandora but don’t use much social media. It’s not hard to picture someone you already know who uses only, or at least mostly, one of these five apps.
Under the company’s new Virgin Mobile Custom initiative, customers can choose from a variety of voice, text and data options to suit their own preferences, and Yahoo figured out ways it could cost under $12 per month for 20 voice minutes, 20 text messages and unlimited data for a single app. Even unlimited talk and text plus unlimited data for one app would only cost around $40.
Alas, the downside is that these custom plans will only be offered for three phones, all of which can only be purchases at Walmart. But Virgin Mobile is positioning the plans as perfect for families who want to control their younger members’ phone usage, and the apps that exercise that control can even be downloaded and run on phones that work on other carriers.
Most smartphone and tablet offers use a lot more than just one app, of course, but there’s likely a niche out there for a service like this, and in the follow-me world of mobile service, it will be interesting to track what other carriers might do of a similar nature.