This is either a stroke of genius or an act of total desperation. I can’t tell at the moment.
Virgin Mobile is willing to trade you free minutes on its wireless network. All one has to do is willingly watch commercials and pay attention while doing so. According to the New York Times:
With the cost of mobile phone calls already dropping sharply, Virgin Mobile USA plans to announce a way that people can talk for no money at all. They will, however, have to pay with a chunk of their attention.
The program, called SugarMama, lets people earn one minute of talking time by watching 30-second commercials on a computer or receiving text messages on their phones, then answering questions to prove they were, in fact, paying attention.
Virgin Mobile, a relatively small cellphone carrier with four million mostly young customers, is aiming the program at teenagers, who can earn up to 75 minutes of free talk time a month.
Virgin has signed up three advertisers: Pepsi, Microsoft’s Xbox game console and a youth antismoking campaign called Truth. The company says that the program, scheduled to be available on June 14, is the first ad-supported cellphone service in the United States.