Boost Mobile pulls back on offer of free phones for switchers

Boost Mobile has pulled in the reins on a promotion that offered free phones to users who switch from other carriers, extending something of a peace offering to its rivals, according to Wave7 Research. But its competitors aren’t responding in kind.

Boost launched a campaign earlier this year offering customers one of five phones free or a $50 discount on other devices for every line switched from tier-one carriers. The promotion came amid a flurry of activity as competition continued to ramp up in prepaid.

But while Boost continues to lure users with the $50 discount, its marketing focus has moved away from the free phones. The company no longer gives away phones “out the door” – at the point of sale – but has begun crediting switchers after they pay their second monthly bill. And while the $50 had been applicable to any Boost phone, it now applies to only five devices: the Kyocera Hydro Reach, LG Tribute 5, Alcatel Dawn, LG K3 and Alcatel OneTouch Conquest.

Boost may be looking to calm the waters in prepaid, where churn is significantly higher than the postpaid market.

“Another major change is the fundamental shift in Boost’s strategy from focusing on an offer of free (or discounted by $50) phones for switchers to providing ‘everyday value’ via a simple $50 Unlimited Unhook’d plan or an affordable $30 1 GB plan,” Wave7 wrote in a note to subscribers. “However, this truce offered by Boost – no free phones ‘out the door’ for switchers – has not been accepted by rivals. MetroPCS continues to aggressively tout its offer of free phones for switchers. Cricket on 9/9 launched its fall promotions, which center on the offer of free smartphones for switchers, and the carrier is quietly waiving activation fees for porting customers.”

Boost’s moves come as Sprint prepares a major overhaul of its Virgin Mobile prepaid brand in an effort to regain its footing in a cutthroat segment. Sprint vows Virgin will relaunch with “new, groundbreaking, best-in-class services” later this year, although the carrier has yet to disclose many details about its plans.

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