Does it really make sense that Google, Twitter, Facebook, and so forth are free to consumers while we're shelling out big bucks every month to wireless companies for the time we spend talking, texting, and viewing ad-supported content?
Sprint thinks there might be another way and is taking a stab at finding it with a new program for customers of its Boost prepaid wireless plans -- a $5 discount for subscribers who agree to see an ad when they unlock their phone's screen.
“We are making the choice easy for consumers,” said Angela Rittgers, vice president-Boost Mobile. “Boost Mobile’s affordable price plans exclusively offer growing data coupled with our latest enhancements to provide customers more value than ever before.”
A free Android app called Boost Dealz gives consumers a $5 credit each month in exchange for their viewing ads, offers, and special deals. The offer is currently available only for Android phones.
Besides being a sales incentive, it's an opportunity for Sprint to stick its toe into the raging river of advertising revenue, currently off-limits to wireless providers.
Spending on mobile ads is expected to surpass spending on ads aimed at desktop users any day now, if it hasn't already done so. The cell phone carriers, understandably, eye that revenue covetously -- and consumers are beginning to grumble that if they have to see ads plastered on everything, they should be compensated for their time.
A potential complication is the Federal Communications Commission, which frowns on carriers being anything other than pipes through which others' content flows. Given Sprint's rather worrisome fourth-place spot in the U.S. market, perhaps the FCC will look the other way, at least for awhile.
In addition to Boost Dealz, Sprint has other Boost deals it's promoting today, including a family plan option featuring two lines for $70 a month, a buy one get one free plan, and expanded roaming and international calling for $5 a month.