If all you do on your smartphone is check Facebook, why should should have to pay for all those other functions that are going unused?
That’s the question that inspired Sprint's new Virgin Mobile Custom plan. The plan lets users customize exactly what smartphone services they want to use and then pay accordingly. For $12 a month, you could even choose a plan that only lets you connect to Facebook, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The plan launches August 9, exclusively for Walmart customers. It also offers plans designed around three other social media apps: Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. If that sounds limiting, it’s actually the opposite, or so says Sprint.
"This is really just part of a broader effort toward customization," Dow Draper, president of prepaid at Sprint, is quoted as saying in the WSJ. Using a specially designed app, customers can choose their perfect mix of services, be it more texting than talking or Instagram instead of Facebook.
With the swipe of a finger, users can adjust their text, talk and data usage.
The plan is aimed at lower-income Americans who typically access the Internet with their smartphone instead of a computer. Almost half of those Americans making under $30,000 primarily access the Internet through their phones, according to Pew Research. The number is closer to a third among the entire population.
Sprint, which has recently been struggling to maintain profitability, is also offering more flexibility for family plans. For $104.92 per month, a family of four gets 3,000 minutes, 3,000 text messages and 4GB of data. Verizon and AT&T's family plans offer 10GB of data and unlimited talk and text for around $160 per month.
The plan also allows customizable parental controls using the app, such as limiting what social media kids can use.
Some critics worry that Sprint’s new plan could lead to the preferential treatment of the best-known apps, which could make it harder for smaller apps to carve out a presence on mobile. While at the moment, no social media apps are paying to be included in Virgin Mobile Custom, the fear is that they one day will be.