Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

Summary: Sprint lands the iPhone 5 and the wireless carrier competitive dynamic changes.

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Sprint will reportedly get Apple's iPhone 5 in October and the move has wide ramifications in the wireless carrier pecking order. According to the Wall Street Journal, Sprint will begin selling the iPhone 5 in mid-October. The move will put Sprint's line-up on equal footing with both AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

Sprint, the No. 3 carrier, has performed fairly well, improved customer service and landed new customers with a value-oriented pricing approach. The problem for Sprint: AT&T and Verizon had a lock on the iPhone.

Now all of that changes and Sprint is saved. Traffic into Sprint stores will improve and it's possible that the three wireless providers will split iPhone sales. The fallout should be interesting to watch.

Also: CNET cell phone buying guide

Here's a quick view of what this Sprint move means.

  • Verizon Wireless' aim to improve is smartphone mix is in jeopardy. Verizon didn't get the pop from the iPhone 4 that it expected. Meanwhile, Apple's iPhone 5, which was thought to turbocharge Verizon's smartphone growth, will arrive late. As a result, Verizon's smartphone mix isn't likely to be 50-50 at the end of the year as planned in January. Sprint entering the iPhone picture changes the equation. Will Sprint split iPhone 5 sales with AT&T and Verizon? After all, AT&T fended off Verizon with iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS sales. In other words, Verizon's iPhone utopia isn't going to happen.
  • AT&T gets more competition. AT&T weathered the Verizon storm well, but Sprint is likely to change the carrier dynamic. The wild card in this competition is whether AT&T can maintain a lock on low-priced iPhones such as the 3GS.
  • Pricing plans will matter more. If the big three carriers have the iPhone, customers will choose the best pricing plans and data caps as a differentiator. Network quality will also matter. Verizon, Sprint and AT&T are likely to move prices lower to grab share. Customer service will also matter. Verizon and Sprint are top dogs on customer service.
  • Sprint becomes much more viable. With the iPhone, Sprint can keep customers, land more family plans and lower churn rates. There are serious questions about Sprint's 4G network plans going forward as the company rolls out its network vision, but the iPhone puts the carrier on much better footing.

Related:

Topics: Wi-Fi, Verizon, AT&T, Telcos, Smartphones, Networking, Mobility, iPhone, Hardware, Apple

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111 comments
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  • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

    If they keep the unlimited data, I am there.
    ncted
    • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

      @ncted

      Don't count on it. I suspect a big part of why Sprint is the last hold out on unlimited data is because, as an iPhone "have not", they needed to have a differentiator from the iPhone "haves". Their operations can't be that different from AT&T and Verizon, so that being said, if Verizon and AT&T are doing it, Sprint likely has the same "need".
      TroyMcClure
      • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

        @piousmonk I doubt sprint is going to change their plans. The iPhone is not a game changer anymore. Android is the big dog in town. And i know most people aren't even looking forward to knew iPhone.
        Jimster480
      • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

        @Jimster480

        Tell my Sprint corporate rep the iPhone coming to them isn't a game changer. I guarantee he hasn't slept since WSJ's article and won't sleep again until Sprint/Apple makes it official and and he gets to do his e-mail blast of the press release.
        TroyMcClure
    • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

      @ncted

      I doubt it. My first thought was "Well there goes the unlimited data". It seems where ever the iphone goes, limited data follows.
      lambtron__40
      • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

        @lambtron__40

        When the Evo 4G was introduced, Sprint kept unlimited data, but (temporarily) ended the unlimited minutes; I was pleased to find that they returned to the unlimited everything plan when I updated to the Motorola Photon. (and while I really preferred the HTC SenseUI to "ghost"blur, what sold me on the Photon was (a) webtop with the Photon, and (b) the Evo 3D's 3D looks gimmicky. iPhone availability won't bother me either way unless Apple comes up with something I can't live without that I can't get with Android.

        I think the dropping of unlimited data on the other carriers was because carriers anticipated iPhone sales would swamp their networks. That is exactly what happened with ATT, but with iPhones spread around, that is not going to be a factor. I think Sprint's big selling point is the price point and the fact that service is actually pretty good. THe one time in the past year I had an issue, customer service had it fixed OTA in no time at all.
        joann_percy@...
    • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

      @ncted What all of you have to double check before switching to SPRINT is the coverage for all the areas you frequent. The real reason that Sprint is cheaper is because they have worse coverage (which is why T-mobile is even CHEAPER). I have used Sprint for over 10 years and used to complain that in my home areas it would go to Analog Roam and then they would not charge me for it (then they did away with that charge anyway)...but NOW there is NO MORE analog roaming and they LIE LIE LIE about "we're gonna put more towers in those areas"...As soon as Verizon has something as good as the Samsung Epic 4g (with the keyboard) and LTE---Sprint can kiss me goodbye!
      harrent@...
      • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

        @harrent@... I doubt that is going to happen.
        Jimster480
      • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

        @harrent@...
        "As soon as Verizon has something as good as the Samsung Epic 4g (with the keyboard) and LTE" - Actually, Verizon is rumored to get just this in September. It has been photographed looking nearly identical to a Sprint's Epic 4G with a slightly modified keyboard, Verizon branding and a 4G LTE icon in the notification bar. There's speculation that it will be called the Samsung Stratosphere.
        NetAdmin1178
      • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

        @harrent@... While I've been with Sprint going on, I think, 10 years now... I agree about their coverage being awfully spotty. I stay with them because they are the least expensive provider for my needs. I have NEVER been in a situation where I've had coverage and another phone with a different provider hasn't, it's always been the other way around.

        I think Sprint needs to stick to the unlimited dataplan even when they get iPhone 5 - it's basically their only competitive advantage. But I wouldn't be surprised if they are forced to abandon it, or at least offer a separate capped iPhone plan.
        fawlty70
      • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

        @harrent@...

        "What all of you have to double check before switching to SPRINT is the coverage for all the areas you frequent."

        Yes, it is Sprint's lack of coverage which is the problem, which is why this blogger's assertion that Sprint's only problem is 'they don't have the iPhone' is just so laughable and absurd.
        Doctor Demento
    • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

      @ncted Ditto. I hate data caps and throttling. It's one more thing to worry about in a life filled with too many worries, already. I like predictable expenses, even if they are slightly higher. Call it "peace of mind." If Verizon hadn't capped (neutered) their iPhone plans prior to introduction, I would have switched to Verizon immediately. Their loss is Sprint's gain, provided Sprint doesn't pull the same idiotic move.

      Hey Sprint, your primary advantage over the bigger iPhone sellers is your completely unlimited plan. If you want a big jump in subscribers, don't mess with that plan!

      'nuff said.
      BillDem
  • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

    Yawn. iPhone 5 will be obsolete on release. Let us know when you start talking about a real next-gen phone, like the Nexus Prime.
    Droid101
    • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

      @Droid101

      That "obsolete" iPhone is almost guaranteed to run circles around your "next-gen" phone in terms of sales.

      I will say that the marketshare battle will be interesting to see play out once iPhone is available on all three major carriers. I've long suspected that a big part of Android's success has been the fact Apple for a long time was available only through AT&T, and then only recently available through Verizon.
      TroyMcClure
      • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

        @piousmonk
        LOL. Yeah, that's what everyone said when the iPhone was only on AT&T. Yet... even after Verizon got it, Android's market share just kept on growing.

        So much for that stupid theory!
        Droid101
      • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

        @piousmonk That was an old argument before Verizon got the iPhone. Android has gone from 38% market share to 51% in this calendar year. iPhone, as a single make/model will continue to outsell and android phone but android as a platform will continue to outsell iOS (phones).
        fpineda101
      • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

        @piousmonk

        Next time look at facts before you run your mouth, Android is outselling the iPride nearly 2:1, world wide.
        wraith404
      • Yes yes

        @wraith404

        We are all very impressed watching econ 101 in action. If you flood the market with freebies and 2 for 1 offers people will buy damn near anything, as HP recently proved.
        oncall
      • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

        @piousmonk : Exactly!! The only reason Android phones are popular it is because they flood the market, not because they offer a better experience...<br><br>Only Windows Phone 7 (and 7.5)s and Apple iPhones offer a real valuable smartphone experience on the market actually...
        EricDeBerg
      • RE: Sprint to land Apple's iPhone: How wireless carrier dynamics will change

        @oncall
        LOL

        Okay, I guess we can't count sales of refurbished iPhone 3G's that are going for next to nothing, or AT&T's 3GS for $49 deal, right?

        Nice logic there.
        Droid101