Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) will begin selling Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5 in mid-October, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, a move that would give Sprint even footing to compete with larger rivals Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T).
The report, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the matter, also said Sprint will sell the iPhone 4 at the same time it starts selling the iPhone 5. Landing the iPhone 5 as well as the iPhone 4 could help Sprint both reduce churn and attract subscribers. If Sprint keeps its $79.99 unlimited smartphone data plan, the carrier also could have a major leg up on Verizon and AT&T, both of which have discontinued their unlimited data plans in favor of tiered data plans. (Verizon launched the iPhone with unlimited data, and subsequently introduced tiered data pricing.)
Verizon activated 2.3 million iPhones in its most recent quarter, and AT&T activated 3.6 million. Apple shipped 20.3 million iPhones globally in its most recent quarter, making the company the world's largest smartphone vendor.
A Sprint spokesman declined to comment and an Apple spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gene Munster at Piper Jaffray expects Sprint to sell 6 million iPhones this year, according to a report in Business Insider.
Sprint executives have continually expressed interest in acquiring the iPhone, but have steadfastly refused to engage in speculation about whether or when the carrier will do so. Sprint has developed a strong relationship with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and currently sells Android phones such as the HTC Evo 3D and Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) Photon 4G. Sprint also supports the search giant's Google Voice and Google Wallet offerings.
Many expect the new iPhone to be unveiled in September and go on sale in October. TechCrunch reported that, according to an unnamed application developer, the next iPhone will be a dual-mode, GSM/CDMA handset. The report dovetails with comments Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo made in May at an investor conference. He said Verizon will offer the next model of the iPhone at the same time as AT&T and that the Verizon version of the next iPhone will work in the same number of countries as AT&T's version--comments that likely indicate the next version of Apple's iPhone will support both CDMA and GSM. Verizon operates a CDMA network and AT&T runs a GSM network; Sprint also operates a CDMA network. Apple never confirmed the comments.
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Business Insider article
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