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Boost, Virgin expand samsung ties

New York – Sprint no-contract brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile are expanding their selection of Samsung phones with the combined launch of six new Samsung phones, including three models bearing the handset vendor’s high-profile Galaxy subbrand.

Virgin also said it would launch a new advertising campaign to boost Virgin’s awareness among a broader consumer base.

With the handset introductions, Boost is taking on the 3G Samsung Galaxy Rush at $149 and the Samsung Galaxy SII 4G with 4G WiMAX service at $369 in both black and white. Virgin is taking on the 3G Galaxy Reverb at $249. The latter is a worldwide exclusive to Virgin. All three smartphones use the latest Android OS Ice Cream Sandwich.

The three other new Samsung phones, none of which are smartphones, are the $59 Array QWERTY slider for Boost and, for Virgin’s PayLo subbrand, the $14 Entro flip phone and the $49 Montage QWERTY slider.

“Even at the low end, people care about brands,” Virgin Mobile director Mark Lederman told TWICE during a Wednesday evening press event to announce the prepaid brands’ stronger ties with Samsung.

With the launches, Boost is boosting its Samsung lineup to seven models to account for a majority of Boost’s handset selection through the remainder of the year, Boost VP Andre Smith told TWICE. Five of the Samsung handsets are Android smartphones out of a total Android selection of nine SKUs. Two of the Android handsets – the Galaxy SII and HTC Evo Design — are 4G models.

For the combined Virgin and Virgin PayLo services, the product launches expand the services’ Samsung selection to six phones out of 14, Virgin’s Lederman said. The combined services offer more handsets from Samsung than handsets from any other single brand, he noted. The three new Samsung products replace one Motorola, one LG, and one Samsung handset.

Both Boost and Virgin have been expanding their smartphone selections because no-contract customers have evolved beyond the credit-challenged, the brands said. “We have become the postpaid-defector brand” appealing to consumers who no longer want to overpay for postpaid service or dislike being fettered by contracts, said Virgin’s. These consumers are increasingly attracted to no-contract brands’ expanding selection of smartphones that are on a par with postpaid smartphones, including high-performance models such as the new Galaxy SII at Boost and Virgin’s current $300 Android Evo V, he said.

Boost’s Smith noted that almost 50 percent of Boost’s gross adds are getting Android smartphones. Boost launched its first Android smartphone, the Galaxy Prevail, a year ago.

Virgin’s first Android phone, also a Samsung model, launched in 2010.

Because the no-contract customer has broadened, Virgin’s advertising strategy is also broadening. A one-month ad campaign starting Friday on TV, digital and outdoor media will add more TV ads on network TV and in primetime compared to niche cable channels that catered to the young, Lederman told TWICE.

The ads’ message will also become more mainstream, asking consumers why they have a contract when they can get the best value at Virgin, he said.