While carriers in the United States offer the option to get pre-paid services on phones, Virgin Mobile's business model (Mobile Network Virtual Operator or MNVO) is entirely based on providing plans without annual contracts ranging from pre-paid to pay-as-you-go services.
The carrier's new Wild Card phone, weighing around 4 ounces, is intended for multimedia and Web browsing. At first glance Wild Card's front face looks like a typical cell phone with a dial pad and other options for voice calls. It can also be tuned sideways and flipped open revealing a wide screen with speakers and a full qwerty keyboard.
"This is another Virgin Mobile phone that appeals to so many of our customers' interests -- especially those who love to text and listen to music," said Howard Handler, the company's CFO, in a statement.
Wild Card is the refined version of Virgin Mobile's Switch Back, an e-mail and text messaging phone that was introduced last year.
Wild Card streams music through an application called Headliner, which works like a jukebox and lets customers listen to individual tracks for 25 cents each. Additionally, the subscription service serves up concert tour updates, music news, artist information, and music charts. Headliner costs $2.49 a month.
The music service is paired with a messaging offer, which includes unlimited text, IM, e-mail, and picture messaging for $20 a month.
Wild Card comes with an optional service called "Contact Vault" for customers that want to store, retrieve, and transfer their personal contacts list if their phone is lost or if they upgrade to a new phone. Contact Vault costs $2 a month or $10 for six months.
The phone costs $100 and is available at Best Buy, Radio Shack, Target, and Wal-Mart. It will be available for purchase on Virgin Mobile's Web site starting next week.
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