Reaction mixed to Sprint offering new iPhone 4S

Oct 06, 2011 By Scott Canon

Shane Adams can relax. A loyal Sprint Nextel customer and techie obsessive, the Internet marketing manager from Olathe, Kan., had verily drooled at the rumors of an iPhone coming to his hometown carrier.

So when Apple officially confirmed Tuesday that this very week he could sign up for an while remaining a Sprint customer, well, he said, "I'm stoked."

Adams, 34, can't wait to toss his 15-month-old HTC Hero down the stairs - don't get him started on phones using Google's Android - and start packing the iPhone. You can barely imagine the embarrassment this year at the South by Southwest hipster music festival.

"I felt lame," he said, "because I didn't have an iPhone."

When Apple revealed its latest handset, the iPhone 4S, at a much-hyped event Tuesday, it confirmed one of the tech company's most poorly kept secrets: Sprint will be among the carriers to sell it, starting Oct. 14.

The country's third-ranked wireless carrier, based in Overland Park, Kan., had cited the existence of the iPhone on AT&T and Verizon Wireless as one of its chief difficulties in recruiting and keeping customers.

Those iPhone customers are especially coveted because they sign up for two-year contracts of what is typically the most expensive cellphone service.

Now that Sprint has the iPhone, the carrier has a significant new drawing card. It's not clear how much the company will pay for the phones, but Apple said all three major carriers would sell them at prices beginning at $200. Pre-orders begin Friday. Delivery will come Oct. 14.

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Sprint agreed to buy 30.5 million phones for $20 billion over the next four years. The newspaper also said that the company expected to lose money on the deal until 2014.

There had been at least one report that Apple was also on the verge of selling an iPhone 5 that would operate on WiMax technology - the high-speed 4G system run by Clearwire Corp. that gives some Sprint customers wireless broadband. But there was no word from Apple on Tuesday about an iPhone 5 or a 4G iPhone.

"Given recent speculation that the new iPhone might support WiMax," wrote telecommunications analyst Jennifer Fritzsche of Wells Fargo Securities, "it is not surprising that this news is being viewed as somewhat negative for Clearwire and positive for Sprint."

Sprint shares rose 13 cents to $2.86 on the iPhone announcement Tuesday. But the price had dropped 10 percent Monday when investors saw the Journal story suggesting Sprint promised to sell so many iPhones. Many analysts were concerned about whether Sprint could sell that many phones or that it would have to subsidize consumers' costs so much to move the handsets.

A company that lost $3.47 billion last year and has run in the red every quarter since 2007, Sprint is hoping its entry into the Apple club can lead it back to profitability. Yet the carrier was largely mum Tuesday.

"We will have more details to come shortly," the company said in a brief statement, "but for (now) we would like to keep the focus on these exciting new devices."

It was unclear whether Sprint would be selling older, cheaper versions of the iPhone and what rate it would attach to the accompanying plans. Customers typically pay $80 a month for unlimited text and data on a Sprint smartphone, generally cheaper than the competition.

That may be one reason consumers noticed Tuesday that there would be a new place to get the gadget that changed the industry when Apple introduced its first version in 2007, and that was added to Verizon's offerings early this year.

"What reasons will they give me to switch?" said longtime AT&T customer Douglas Coe, the chief investment officer of Moody Reid Financial Advisors in Kansas City. "Lower rates? Better coverage? A buyback clause? That's a driver right there."

Buyback features pay customers a market rate for their existing phones when they upgrade to a new model. Coe notes, for example, that the iPhone 5 likely comes out next year and that customers won't want to be stuck with this middle iteration of the iPhone.

Coe acknowledged that he had suffered dropped calls on AT&T, so he could be tempted.

"If you can give me a deal," he said, "I would leave AT&T in a minute."

In fact, Sprint does offer smartphone plans cheaper than its iPhone competitors. What's more, it's the last remaining carrier with unlimited data plans.

And then there are the phone users who practically yawn at the idea of a Sprint iPhone.

Kristen Keener, 25, a part-time school employee in Manhattan, Kan., is amazed how her 3-year-old son can play games on her phone. Her Samsung Nexus S works just fine on the Sprint network.

"It's funny how trendy the whole Apple thing is," she said. "I would really only be willing to try (an iPhone) if someone gave it to me."

Explore further: Making smartphone browsing 20% faster while reducing power consumption by 40%

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Report says Sprint to get iPhone in October

Aug 23, 2011

(AP) -- Sprint Nextel Corp., the country's third-largest cellphone company, will start selling the iPhone in mid-October, The Wall Street Journal said Tuesday.

Report: Sprint to buy more than 30M iPhones

Oct 03, 2011

(AP) -- Sprint is committing to buy more than 30 million iPhones over the next four years, imposing a heavy burden on an already cash-strapped company, The Wall Street Journal reports.

A buyer's guide to the new iPhone 4S

Oct 05, 2011

(AP) -- Apple is trotting out a new iPhone on Oct. 14, but it's not the iPhone 5 some were expecting. Instead, it's a more modest upgrade, the iPhone 4S. Here are some facts to help you decide if it's time ...

CDMA iPhone may be coming soon

Jan 06, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The largest wireless carrier in the US, Verizon Wireless, is thought to be in negotiations with Apple to release a CDMA network version of the iPhone later this year, if a price can be agreed ...

Recommended for you

Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

18 hours ago

What Microsoft users in business care deeply about—-a system architecture that supports efforts to get their work done efficiently; a work-centric menu to quickly access projects rather than weather readings ...

US official: Auto safety agency under review

Oct 24, 2014

Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the U.S. agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized ...

Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

Oct 24, 2014

Amazon has long acted like an ideal customer on its own website: a freewheeling big spender with no worries about balancing a checkbook. Investors confident in founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' invest-and-expand ...

Ebola.com domain sold for big payout

Oct 24, 2014

The owners of the website Ebola.com have scored a big payday with the outbreak of the epidemic, selling the domain for more than $200,000 in cash and stock.

Hacker gets prison for cyberattack stealing $9.4M

Oct 24, 2014

An Estonian man who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a 2008 cyberattack on a credit card processing company that enabled hackers to steal $9.4 million has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta.

Magic Leap moves beyond older lines of VR

Oct 24, 2014

Two messages from Magic Leap: Most of us know that a world with dragons and unicorns, elves and fairies is just a better world. The other message: Technology can be mindboggingly awesome. When the two ...

User comments : 0