Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) confirmed that it will launch LTE smartphones running Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 8 next year. Sprint joins fellow operators AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and T-Mobile USA in showing support for Microsoft's operating system.
"Sprint and Microsoft are partnering to bring Windows Phone 8 to Sprint's customers--operating on its 4G LTE network--next year," the carrier said in a statement. The timing could indicate that Sprint wants to increase its LTE network coverage before launching Windows Phone, or it could be impacted by Sprint's commitment to other platforms. Sprint has a four-year, $15.5 billion deal with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to sell the iPhone and has also been a strong proponent of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android.
The nation's No. 3 carrier did not provide any other details beyond the statement. However, in the past Sprint has said it would launch Windows Phone 8 devices. "We think Windows Phone 8 is a solid product that they are bringing to market," David Owens, Sprint's vice president of products, said in August. "We're interested in watching it unfold over the course of the next year. And we won't be watching from the sidelines. We'll be participating. We may not lead it, but we'll participate."
Sprint has launched only one Windows Phone to date, the HTC Arrive, which Sprint has said was one of its most-returned phones of recent history. U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM) has also voiced support for Windows Phone 8, but has not said when it will launch Microsoft devices.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said earlier this month that Windows Phone 8 will rapidly capture more market share as it builds on its relatively small user base. "With the work we have done with Nokia (NYSE:NOK), HTC, Samsung and others ... there is now an opportunity to create really a strong third participant in the smartphone market," Ballmer said at an event to launch Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system in Israel, according to Reuters. "We're still relatively small ... I expect the volumes on Windows Phone to really ramp quickly."
Ballmer has said Microsoft will put its marketing muscle behind Windows 8, its Surface tablet and Windows Phone 8 for the biggest marketing push in the company's history. In addition to its own marketing, Microsoft has solid carrier support this holiday season: AT&T, T-Mobile USA and, perhaps most importantly, Verizon, are backing Microsoft's push to gain market share.
AT&T has launched Nokia Lumia 920 for $100 with a two-year contract, the Lumia 820 for $50 with a two-year contract and will launch the HTC Windows Phone 8X for $200 with a two-year contract. T-Mobile will release the $99 Lumia 810 and $149 8X. And Verizon will launch the Lumia 822 for $100 with a two-year contract the 8X for $200 with a two-year contract and in December the Samsung Electronics Ativ Odyssey, presumably a variant of the Ativ S that Samsung announced in late August.
Separately, Verizon said it expects to sell by year-end a Windows Phone 8 device for free when paired with a two-year contract. Verizon Wireless CMO Tami Erwin told The Verge that "there will be a $99 and a $199 [option] and ultimately before the end of the year we will have a device that comes in at the free [price] point."
- see this PC Magazine article
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this The Verge article
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