Sprint today unveiled "Sprint ID" packs, pre-packaged, specially tailored sets of mobile apps for three new Android phones - with goals of eventually being available on all Android devices.
The carrier, which has gained some widespread attention with the launch of the Evo 4G smartphone by HTC, recognizes two key trends about smartphones today: 1) most smartphone owners aren't using those devices to the full extent of their capabilities, and 2) many of those users are overwhelmed by the app store experience and don't know which apps are best for them.
In some ways, the move to create sets of apps - targeted around things like music, shopping, entertainment and so on - is a smart one. Not only does it allow the app developers themselves to build some exposure by being part of a bundled deal but it also allows users to install and run apps that they know they can trust, largely because they've been given an unofficial seal of approval by Sprint.
Among those companies whose apps are included with the initial Sprint ID packs: Amazon, Disney, eBay, ESPN, MTV, the Oprah Winfrey Network and Yahoo!
In a statement, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said:
Sprint ID is another innovative Sprint ‘first’ which revolutionizes the wireless customer experience, and it’s a new way to leverage our open mobile strategy. As the market for mobile applications expands, mobile users want a simpler way to access the data most relevant to their needs at that time. Sprint ID offers unprecedented customization and personalization. Businesses will be able to deliver innovative, customized resources on mobile devices to their employees. We have an outstanding group of partners – some of the best brands in the U.S. – helping us deliver this new mobile experience to consumers.
It was ironic that Sprint, which has sort of been overshadowed by its AT&T and Verizon counterparts as leaders in smartphone adoption, was the one to introduce this idea of app packs. Increasingly, as apps and their marketplaces gain traction among the mobile OS companies - Google's Android, Apple's iOS, RIM's Blackberry and even HP's WebOS - the carriers have been left out.
Some have even argued that Verizon and Apple couldn't cut a deal to launch the original iPhone because the two companies couldn't agree on who would maintain control of the device apps. Verizon, at the time, was pushing services through its VCast service.
Sprint seems to be taking a gamble on the willingness of consumers to let someone else decide which smartphone apps are best for them. It seems like a smart gamble. As smartphones grow among mainstream consumers, many of those first time customers aren't comfortable customizing their own devices right away.
This gives them a way to enjoy the smartphone experience without having to do much work when they first power up the phone.