Sprint appears poised to become the third U.S. wireless carrier to sell Apples iPhone 5. The Overland Park, Kan.-based operator will start selling the device in mid-October, sources told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday.
The timing of the release comes as little surprise, because October is the month most in the industry have been predicting that well see the latest edition of Apples darling. But a Sprint-Apple partnership is one that to this point has seemed like wild speculation. It was only earlier this year that Verizon Wireless broke Apples exclusive stranglehold on the device. If this turns out to be true, hand it to Piper Jaffray analyst Chris Larsen, who last month said he expected Sprint and T-Mobile to start selling the phone soon. At least he might be half right and considering AT&T and T-Mobile could soon be one company, he might be 100-percent right, in a way.
Sprint, which has been fighting the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile, might finally have the piece of the puzzle it needs to compete against giant Verizon Wireless, and perhaps-soon-to-be-even-bigger giant, AT&T. Sprint has managed to improve its customer service ranking in recent months, but has still battled churn due in part to its competitors ability to offer the iPhone.
The WSJ sources said all three carriers will start selling the new iPhone at the same time; Sprint will also sell Apples fourth-generation device for those who want to pay less than it would cost them for the iPhone 5. But no specific pricing details were given. Also remaining a mystery is if well see just a full-blown iPhone 5 this October or both the iPhone 5 and a slightly souped-up, less-expensive version of the iPhone 4 that could play well in emerging markets.
AT&T sold more than 7 million iPhones in the first half of this year, while customers snatched up 4.5 million from Verizon Wireless during the same time period.
Long limiting the number of carriers it worked with, Apple has really been branching out this year. For example, the Silicon Valley giant is wrapping up a new deal with China Telecom, the Asian nations third-largest wireless telco.