After months of speculation, the Sprint Nextel Corp. has announced that they will have the most recent incarnation of the iPhone in their stores and on their shelves by mid-October. This will be just in time to give this carrier just a little bit of a boost before the holiday season after it has gone through quite a few years of financial slump. It also offers Apple just one more platform to launch their newest iPhone 5, one of the most heavily debated and rumored pieces of technology this year.
The first and second quarter of 2011 has been a transitional period for each of the four major carriers within the United States. Verizon has positioned itself as the most popular carrier in the country, Sprint has been pushed nearly into the fourth place, and AT&T has made an offer to purchase the dwindling Sprint/T-Mobile infrastructure. All these factors may have contributed to Sprint’s decision to push for the a deal with Apple to house one of the most popular phones in the world in their stores.
The news of Sprint putting the iPhone 5 on their shelves by mid-October also comes as a boon to Apple fans around the world. After nearly an entire year of rumors, confirmation has finally been received that the iPhone 5 will be available to the masses by October at the latest. Original release dates have hovered around September, but through the first two quarters of 2011 this date has gone back and forth dramatically. Some manufacturers claimed a release date as early as April 2011 while others made a much more pessimistic guess of early 2012.
After Sprint recorded only 52 million subscribers, compared to 106 million for Verizon and nearly 99 million for AT&T, they needed something to keep them afloat through the holiday seasons. A huge dip in Sprint subscribers had many shareholders nervous about the future of their company. Sprint’s press release earlier this year claimed that they were in fact doing nothing wrong, but their competition was picking up speed. They went on to say that a major component of this puzzle was the fact that early 2011 was “the first full quarter both major competitors offered the iPhone.” Sprint decided to take a page from their competitions book and gave shareholders a sigh of relief.
Sprint has also announced that they will be carrying the iPhone 4 at a steeply reduced price as well as all the accessories for both phones. Some market analysts are saying that Sprint may have made the right move at the wrong time. With AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile imminent, both companies may use Sprint’s deal with Apple as a reason to finally seal the deal. Others argue that the merger was going to take place regardless of Sprint’s choice to carry the iPhone 5. Either way, Sprint was in desperate need of a change of scenery after their disastrous merger with Nextel that has haunted it for nearly ten years. With millions of iPhones hitting Sprint stores in October, it can be sure that these smartphones that hover around $650 dollars per unit will give Sprint time to rethink the market.