Virgin Mobile USA plans to become the world’s first “iPhone-only” network as part of a new deal with Apple to begin selling the carrier’s wireless plans through Apple’s retail network, Reuters reports. The carrier, which is a subsidiary of Sprint that licenses its name from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, is revamping its business to remove Android devices from its lineup in the coming years. Branson, who was directly involved with the deal, told Reuters in an interview that he felt it was a good fit due to the similarities between the Apple and Virgin brands in advocating for human rights and other social causes, and that Apple’s retail head Angela Ahrendts was “tremendously supportive” of the partnership, and that Virgin was basically “knowing on an open door” in approaching Apple.
The addition of Virgin Mobile USA to Apple’s retail lineup will represent the first new carrier added by Apple since 2013 when T-Mobile joined the fold. Virgin Mobile USA plans will initially be offered in Apple’s retail stores before rolling out for online iPhone customers. Under the terms of the new deal, customers who purchase either new or refurbished phones from Virgin or Apple will get up to one initial year of service for $1, with fees of $50 per month after that. Virgin believes that its lack of physical stores and big ad campaigns allows it to run leaner and therefore make a profit from much less revenue than larger carriers. Virgin is also hoping that moving exclusively to selling iPhones will bring it in line with the rest of Virgin’s brands, which include airlines, hotels, and wine clubs that traditionally target considerably more upscale customers.