Tomorrow is set to be the big unveiling of Apple’s next smartphone, and if this rumour pans out, it may be a doozy. Sprint has reportedly scored exclusive rights to sell the iPhone 5, while Verizon and AT&T will have a lower-end iPhone 4S. Sprint managed to pull this off by promising to buy $20 billion-worth of phones, from which they’ll only make a profit by the time 2014 rolls around. 30.5 million units would be purchased over the next four years, while subsidizing $500 of the price of the phone.
If this deal turns out to be true, Sprint will basically be Apple’s bitch for the next four years. The company’s spending a ton of money on the hardware, and eating much of the cost themselves just to retain and potentially win back customers that had bailed to get the iPhone on Verizon or AT&T. That said, moves like killing one-year contracts and the unlimited data hotspot add-on could be seen as preparing for a long iPhone season.
The features of the iPhone 5 still aren’t nailed down, but a bigger screen, slimmer profile, and faster processor are all on the table – WiMAX may even be included too, and could be a distinctive leg-up if Sprint has scored an exclusive with the iPhone 5, while AT&T and Verizon may be saddled with EV-DO and HSPA+ versions of the iPhone 4S. Rumour has it Sprint would be keeping their unlimited plans for the launch, which would provide an additional advantage. Sprint says their network would be able to handle intensive iPhone data traffic just fine, but I’m sure AT&T thought the same thing when they signed on with Apple too.
The source of this rumour said one of the biggest contentions Sprint leadership had about this deal was whether or not the iPhone will still be as big in 2014 as it is now. Given, Apple’s popularity has only grown over time, Android’s growth is higher, and I would certainly be worried about pushing the same iPhone brand through that uncertain future. What do you guys say – would Sprint be smart to basically bet the whole company on an iPhone deal? With AT&T and T-Mobile setting to merge, and Verizon still claiming a sizeable lead, the little guy is in a tight spot, and may have to take desperate measures just to stay in the game.
Be sure to swing by tomorrow to see what’s going down – we’ll be covering the announcements fast and furious as they happen.