Apple prepaid iPhone: Cricket Wireless is the first in the U.S. to offer one

Cricket originally found its prepaid phone niche with low-budget customers that needed a cheap way to get a cell phone without signing a two-year contract.

But today more people who could afford a contract are turning their backs on long-term commitments and it shows in the type of phones their buying.

"Half of our subscriber base now has smartphones, which two years ago we didn't offer any smartphones,"  said Mat Stoiber of Cricket Communications. "That is a very quick transition in technology."

But one piece of technology cricket could not offer was the Apple iPhone.

Until now.

But when there's no contract there's also no discounted phone.

In this case you buy the 16g iPhone or others from Cricket at the full price, then go on a month to month plan of $55 dollars.

Marketing professor Michael Belch says clearly the prepaid phone business is reaching a wider audience and the addition of the iPhone is significant.

The cricket plan includes 2.5 gigabytes of data per month, plenty for most of its customers.

But there is a catch with the phone.

Just like the big carriers, it cannot jump from plan to plan.

"If you're with a carrier, you can't bring it to Cricket, just like if you buy a Cricket iPhone you really can't take it to another carrier," said Stoiber.

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