AT&T's Cricket aims new iPhone app at switchers

AT&T’s Cricket Wireless brand is trying to entice people to come over to its wireless service with a new app that lets people try it for 14 days before they buy.

Launched on October 31, it’s called the “tryCricket app.” Consumers aren’t required to have an eSIM device to use it, but eSIM makes it easier.

“With eSIM finally becoming mainstream, we felt this was the perfect opportunity for us to bring all these pieces together,” said Conor Murphy, AVP, Digital Experience at Cricket. “It’s meant to be a really easy and simple process.”

About half the Cricket customer base is using some version of an Apple iPhone, and Apple’s support for eSIM dates back to the iPhone XS series. (An Android version of the Cricket app is in the works.)

Murphy walked through the "try it" app set-up process online and it took about two minutes and four clicks.

During the set-up, the system asks for the user’s location so Cricket can make sure the prospective customer is in a location that has good network coverage, he said. It also asks for some other basic information, like name and for those using a physical SIM, a shipping address.

The check-out process requires no credit card.

The tryCricket users receive a temporary phone number with 3 GB of data during the trial period. Users are advised to continue using their current wireless service provider for voice calls, so contacts will recognize who's calling, but to use Cricket for data, he said.

AT&T bought Cricket from Leap Wireless in 2014. Cricket rides on AT&T’s network, so if someone has a 5G-enabled phone, “it will be a 5G experience,” he said.

Cricket boasts lower churn

In a market that has notoriously high churn, Cricket boasts numbers on the lower end of the spectrum.

AT&T doesn’t publish churn numbers for Cricket; it’s a combined figure for Cricket and AT&T Prepaid. For the third quarter of 2022, AT&T said prepaid churn was less than 3%, “with Cricket substantially lower.”

Cricket launched a new marketing campaign in the back-to-school/August timeframe and that campaign speaks to the churn theme. It features testimonials from Cricket customers, with the tag line being “People who come to Cricket, stay with Cricket.”

So what’s going right? Cricket has 13 million customers, up from the 12.4 million that it reported a year ago, when it had added more than 2 million subscribers in two years. At that time, AT&T said it was the fastest growing prepaid carrier in the U.S. since 2019.

“I think what differentiates us is our focus on the community,” said Tony Mokry, vice president and chief marketing officer at Cricket Wireless. “Cricket stands for being local.”

Cricket has been a proud supporter of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) programs since 2018 and expanded the relationship earlier this year through an agreement with The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). It’s also a big supporter of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.  

In mid-November, Cricket will start advertising through a social and digital campaign around the “try it” app. TV commercials will continue to focus on customer testimonials, Mokry said.

Holiday offers will start early, on November 18, and continue until January 5. This holiday season, “we expect customers to be looking for great deals on wireless,” he said. “We expect a large demand.”

It’s hard to tell how many postpaid customers are switching to prepaid, but the “try it” campaign might give them more intelligence on where people are coming from.