What’s not hard to believe is today’s WSJ report that Sprint is basically “betting the company” on tomorrow’s expected iPhone 5/4S launch. What is hard to believe is today’s BGR report claiming that in exchange for committing to buy $20 Billion worth of smartphones from Apple, Sprint will be getting a three month plus exclusive in the form of a WiMax iPhone 5.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse had to promise Apple his company would spend twenty billion bucks on some 30.5 million iPhones over the course of the next four years. Hesse, in order to do so, essentially had to convince his Board of Directors that the U.S.’ third biggest wireless carrier had no other choice if they wanted to remain competitive with AT&T and Verizon Wireless. So bet the company they did. Even if the plan works out for Sprint, they won’t see any profit from the deal until at least 2014. I guess the Evo 3D’s not selling so well, huh?
The wager begins in earnest tomorrow when Apple is expected to unveil one, possibly two, new iPhones at their “Let’s talk iPhone” press event (liveblog, 9:30 am Pacific). Sprint will need to sell just shy of 8 million iPhones each year, on average, over the course of their four year commitment in order to fulfill their promise to Apple. If they can make good, they’ll reap the rewards to the tune of umpteen two-year smartphone contracts and oodles of subscriber renewals and new sign-ups. Even better for the Now Network, some of those new iPhone contracts will no doubt come from folks who’ve jumped AT&T and VZW’s ship – an idea that’s not really so crazy assuming Sprint offers their iPhone contracts at current unlimited data plan pricing.
What is crazy – all sorts of crazy – is the BGR story that goes like this: Yes, Sprint bet the farm on iPhone just like WSJ said. Yes, they’ve committed to 31.5 million of the suckers over the next four years just like WSJ said. In exchange they’re getting a three month minimum head start on iPhone 5 while AT&T and VZW have to settle for iPhone 4S. And Sprint’s iPhone 5 will support WiMax and Assistant now while the other guys’ 4Ses won’t. Sometime in early 2012 Ma Bell and Big Red will get their iPhone 5s, with LTE and Assistant, but by then Little Yellow will have had a full quarter’s head start in poaching customers. And the Holiday quarter, at that.
Crazier things have happened. I think. And it’s not anybody anywhere has been able to get a comment out of Apple or Sprint, but think about it: Apple would be committing to at least three mind-boggling bits of insanity if this story were true: 1. “Screw you, long-time iPhone partners, the new guy gets the goods first and during Xmas season at that”; 2. “WiMax is dead. Sprint’s all but said so. So let’s build a WiMax iPhone! THAT makes sense.” 3. “Not only do AT&T and Verizon not get the iPhone 5, but they also don’t get our top-secret, ‘World-changing’ new feature, Assistant.”
I’m not buying it. I hope it’s true, nonetheless, just because of the sheer insanity of the proposition. But I’m not buying it. iPhone to Sprint? Sure. Sprint had to bet the farm to get it? Makes sense. But I’m gonna stop right there, thanks. If I’m wrong? Well, I never claimed to be a genius.