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Richard Branson helps Sprint relaunch Virgin Mobile as iPhone-only brand

Sprint is trying to remake its Virgin Mobile prepaid brand, focusing on the iPhone and perks tied to the broader Virgin brand, including discounts on Virgin airlines, hotels and wines. The company announced plans for a new "Inner Circle" offering that offers those who buy an iPhone six months of wireless service for just $1 (and an additional six months free for those who sign up by July 31.)

Virgin Group head Richard Branson was on hand at an event in San Francisco where Sprint announced the move.

"We're committed to innovating," Branson said, rattling off a list of Virgin's current efforts ranging from electric race cars to space travel. Branson said he challenged Sprint two years ago to make better use of the Virgin brand and is pleased to see the company doing so.

Why it matters: Sprint has been looking for some time to reposition Virgin, one of two prepaid brands it has. (It also sells service under the Boost Mobile moniker.) Competition in that space has been tough since T-Mobile bought MetroPCS and AT&T purchased Cricket, not to mention just generally brutal price pressure in the cell phone market.