MobileX marks the spot where it aims to change the MVNO game

Founder and CEO Peter Adderton holds big aspirations for MobileX, which launched in the U.S. earlier this year using Verizon’s network. But there are a few things yet to be worked out.

“We’re finally getting ourselves more and more comfortable with the platform,” he said on Tuesday. “There’s still a few things we’re working through inside the app.”

MobileX's app-based service uses AI to predict how much data customers need, with promises of delivering a dramatic reduction in cost for consumers who don’t need more than 30 GB of data per month. Its "unlimited" plans are $20/month for 15 GB and $25/month for 30 GB. 

One of the things it’s working on is smoother onboarding for Apple devices. As it is now, there’s an extra step involved to get a phone activated for an MVNO like MobileX that isn’t yet recognized as a carrier in Apple’s “carrier bundle.”  

He’s hoping Apple’s policy will change with the upcoming iOS 17. Currently, “it’s cumbersome. It’s very hard for new entrants and it’s very hard if you don’t have a lot of money to go buy a bunch of iPhones from Apple,” he said. For now, MobileX is basically eSIM and physical SIM only.

MobileX customers need to bring an unlocked device, which can be iOS or Android, that is compatible with Verizon’s network. MobileX eventually will get into the handset game, but Adderton said he has no intention of getting into the handset subsidization business. Phone upgrades aren’t happening as fast as they used to, and “the unlocked market is becoming stronger and stronger,” he said.

Ambitious agenda

Adderton, who founded Boost Mobile in Australia and launched the brand in the U.S. before it was sold to Sprint, is adamant that MobileX is the best MVNO game in town. It’s competitive with Mint Mobile and other low-cost wireless providers.

MobileX received a score of 8 out of 10 in a recent Android Police review, which noted a feature that allows users to choose their video streaming quality and potentially save on data usage.

MobileX hasn’t done any official marketing yet because they’re waiting for the platform to scale. Adderton said he’s not revealing the number of customers MobileX serves, other than to say it’s “on our way to thousands.”

Interestingly, very few customers are taking the “unlimited” plan, which is “the best in the market,” he said. They’re preferring to go the AI route and only pay for what they need.

His own daughters are using MobileX, including a 19-year-old who was on the family’s plan “for her whole life.” She’s now paying a lot more attention and monitoring her data, he said. “It’s her money, and it’s funny, when it’s their money, it suddenly becomes important.”

He’s pushing the GlobalX agenda to deliver the first “global gigabyte” where a person’s MobileX data will work anywhere they travel in the world. It’s currently in beta. 

“That’s going to be a game changer and that’s going to get rid of international roaming, because international roaming, in my opinion, is basically a scam and the industry needs to do better,” he said.

Marathon, not a sprint

One of the biggest lessons he learned from his Amp’d Mobile days was to pace the business. At Amp’d, “the back end couldn’t keep up with the front end,” and that was one of the biggest problems before the company went out of business. “I’m not making that same mistake,” he said. 

“It’s a marathon for me, it’s not a sprint,” he said, noting that the first marketing MobileX has done basically is the sponsorship of the No. 33 Chevrolet for Brodie Kostecki’s NASCAR Cup Series debut in August.

“We’re ahead of where I thought we would be,” he said. The conversion rates from people visiting the MobileX site to downloading the app is high, and if they can keep that up, “we’re going to do very, very well.”

Before MobileX launched, he was told most people want unlimited data, but he’s seeing people change their habits after they start using the MobileX app. “They’re using less data. They’re getting smarter about it. They’re controlling their video usage. They’re using Wi-Fi more,” he said. “We’re giving people control and they’re taking control.”