iPhone 5 release date imminent hints Sprint CFO, plus budget iPhone 4S
September 18, 2011 by Bill Palmer
by Bill Palmer
Like a cat which keeps peeking out of the bag, Sprint is a bit too excited about the fact that it’s landed the iPhone 5 in time for the device’s release date. This time it’s Sprint’s CEO popping out of the bag to once again confirm that the iPhone 5 is in the bag with him, and dropping hints that it’ll be paired with a low-cost iPhone 4S to replace the current Verizon-AT&T segretated iPhone 4, which will place short term pressure on the carrier’s margins even as he makes clear that the release date is a mere stone’s throw away…
Sprint, which would have been the last major U.S. carrier not to have the iPhone with T-Mobile on the selling block while AT&T and Verizon already have it, has already been leaving a trail of evidence that it’ll share in the iPhone 5 pie. Sprint workers have been caught installing signal booster equipment around Apple Stores so as to ensure the iPhone 5 gets an ample Sprint signal when would-be buyers are making a decision on which carrier to go with. Sprint has also apparently informed Best Buy that it’ll carry the iPhone 5, with the retailer having accidentally leaked to its employees that a Sprint iPhone 5 is coming. But about that iPhone 5 release date, the grand prize among unknown iPhone 5 details…
Sprint has repeatedly pointed to the iPhone 5 arriving within the next month. The signal boosting wouldn’t have been done in such haste if the iPhone 5 weren’t about to pop out of the cake. The Best Buy leak pointed to a Sprint iPhone 5 the first week of October. And now Sprint’s CFO, simply by opening his mouth about the iPhone 5, is tacitly admitting that it’s around the corner for all carriers. If the iPhone 5 were still off in the distance, Sprint execs wouldn’t be talking about it; by admitting that there will be a Sprint iPhone 5, the carrier is hurting sales of its existing smartphones in the mean time, and it knows that. So how does the iPhone 4S play into all of this?
If Apple were merely releasing an iPhone 4S and nothing else, it would have happened months ago. The release date delay alone confirms that a redesigned iPhone 5 will be the company’s new flagship smartphone. But there’s been little evidence to suggest that a lower cost iPhone 4S will appear alongside it, taking the place of the existing iPhone 4 on the bargain end. However, Sprint’s comments regarding the iPhone offering lower margins for the carrier point an iPhone 4S happening after all, and a cheap one at that. Furthermore, Sprint is banking on the 4S selling well enough to impact margins in spite of the higher margin iPhone 5. But as the CFO pointed out, iPhone users tend to be so satisfied with their device that they stick with the platform for generations to come, thus ensuring that Sprint customers remain loyal to Sprint rather than blaming the carrier for selling them a disappointing phone and jumping to Verizon or AT&T, which has been taking place with Sprint’s Android line for the past couple years. Here’s more on iPhone 5.