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Buy An iPhone, Get A Trip Across The Pond

Virgin Mobile USA recently became the first iPhone-exclusive carrier with the launch of its Inner Circle program. Consumers who purchase an iPhone will receive six months of unlimited talk, text and data on Virgin Mobile’s network for just $1; those who sign by Sept. 30 will receive a round-trip companion ticket to the United Kingdom on Virgin Atlantic and one night’s stay at Virgin Hotels, among other perks.

Our Take: While the outlandish incentives won’t be enough to sway loyal or apathetic consumers, those who are put off by the big four carriers — likely soon to be three as the T-Mobile/Sprint merger appears probable — may appreciate the chance to jump ship.

Trump Accuses (?) Amazon Of Not Paying Taxes

As he’s wont to do, President Trump recently took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction with the media. Included in his crosshairs in one tweet was Amazon. Trump tweeted: “The #AmazonWashingtonPost, sometimes referred to as the guardian of Amazon not paying internet taxes (which they should) is FAKE NEWS!”

Our Take: While the direction in which he’s lobbing his “FAKE” jab is a bit muddy, it should be noted that Amazon does collect sales tax in most states, with the only exceptions being in states that do not collect sales tax. There is no dedicated “Internet tax.”

Samsung & MLB Release Virtual Reality Videos

Samsung and Major League Baseball (MLB) are offering fans a series of immersive videos exclusively on the Samsung VR app. Samsung Gear VR users can go “face to face” with select players, view ballparks, and view player stats, facts, stills and video. They can also browse and stream the 360-degree content on Galaxy phones via the mobile app or online at SamsungVR.com.

Our Take: Professional sports are a prime launchpad for virtual-reality content, providing fans with the intimate access they already clamor for.

Video Games & Electronics Giving Toys A Run For Its (Licensing) Money

Video games, electronics and apps make up a combined 22 percent of kids’ licensed product dollar sales in the U.S., which is on par with the volume represented by toys, according to The NPD Group. While toys capture the largest share of licensed sales among younger kids, this shifts to video games, electronics and apps as they get older. “There are many variables and moving parts when it comes to licensing out a property, which means there is not one formula for success,” said Juli Lennett, NPD senior VP and U.S. toys industry analyst. “This presents an opportunity for retailers to more strategically merchandise their licensed products and diversify their offerings, giving consumers an easy opportunity to buy deep into the license. The online platform in particular is well-suited for this bundling strategy allowing consumers to buy across categories in one place, and keep them engaged in the license.”

Our Take: While kids eschew licensed clothing and gear as they age, they’re more than happy to interact with their favorite licenses in the digital world. And as Pokemon Go showed, manufacturers that can bridge the gap between younger and older children will win.

Home Wi-Fi Data Consumption Jumps 40%

U.S. smartphone users reported a 40 percent increase in monthly Wi-Fi data consumption in 2016, with Wi-Fi usage increasing faster than mobile data usage, according to Parks Associates. Over two-thirds use more than 3GB per month, and the firm noted that mobility combined with increasing numbers of smart-home devices will put added pressure on the wireless home network to maintain quality of service and protect users’ data and privacy.

Our Take: Expect Wi-Fi extenders to become as ubiquitous as power strips, and retailers would be wise to educate consumers on their benefits.

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