Sprint ID customizes Android devices with pre-packaged apps, widgets

SAN FRANCISCO--Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) CEO Dan Hesse unveiled the carrier's new Sprint ID effort here at the CTIA Enterprise & Applications show, which the company said will help customers personalize their Android devices and easily navigate and discover applications. The ID packs will collect applications, widgets, ringtones, wallpapers and more, and will come from brands such as Amazon, Yahoo!, ESPN, Home Shopping Network, Disney and MTV. Sprint ID will be available starting Oct. 10 on two Android smartphones--the Samsung Transform and Sanyo Zio--and a third device, the LG Optimus S later this year.

Sprint will sell the LG Optimus S for $49 with a contract."Sprint ID is about accessing content," Hesse said, noting that currently only one in four smartphone owners knows how to download an application and use it.

Hesse said he expects users will download different Sprint ID packs--essentially new software skins for phones--for different parts of their lives. For example, a consumer may have a Sprint ID pack for their work and another for their personal life. Consumers can choose from up to five IDs. Once an ID is loaded, users can further customize it with additional apps and content. 

The ID packs can be geared toward consumer tastes as well as enterprise uses.

For content providers, such as MTV, the Sprint ID pack is an opportunity to deliver content to their audience--similar to early MVNOs but without service plans and handsets. In addition, the ID packs offer publishers the opportunity to curate consumers' mobile app download experience, guaranteeing that users obtain an aggregate of integrated, complementary solutions in one fell swoop, said Yahoo Mobile vice president David Katz. "It's a nice model for users to be able to get a bunch of app experiences at once," Katz said in an interview with FierceMobileContent. "It fits into the Yahoo metaphor really nicely. Having all the pieces available allows people to access our content and services in the way they've become acclimated. We're trying to deliver an experience that's integrated and makes sense for our users."

The Sprint ID packs will come free with certain rate plans, or customers can purchase them directly from the phone. More ID packs will be rolled out in the months ahead. According to Steve Elfman, Sprint's president of network operations and wholesale, the ID packs will act as additional distribution channels for the operator. And brands that offer Sprint ID packs likely will be able to sell advertising to generate revenue. 

Hesse said Sprint ID will be available on all future Sprint Android devices. Elfman added that Sprint ID could be expanded to additional platforms beyond Android.

Sprint's news coincided with the launch of three new Android phones by the carrier. Sprint will sell the LG Optimus S for $49 with a contract, the Sanyo Zio by Kyocera for $99 with a contract, and the Samsung Transform for $149 with a contract.

For more:
- see this Sprint ID release
- see this release for the LG Optimus
- see this release on the Sanyo Zio
- see this release on the Samsung Transform

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